A number of European carmakers, including Volkswagen across Europe and Aston Martin in Wales have initiated plans to reopen car plants shuttered for the past month due to the Covid-19 global lockdowns.
The way the manufacturers handle the reopening of manufacturing wl be closely watched across Europe in all industries, including Irish builders and government health officials amid talks to reopen Irish sites next month.
VW said it is making masks in China for distribution to Volkswagen plant employees in Europe, as it prepares to restart European production. VW will be able to produce 1.6 million masks per month in the coastal city of Tianjin, where it has car plants with partner FAW.
The German carmaker had already announced plans to partly reopen its plant in Spain’s Navarra region this week after its closure in mid-March with one of its three daily shifts operating during four days in the first week, and the goal is to extend it to two shifts the following week, depending on how well the supply chain works.
All workers would wear masks and gloves, and the plant’s disinfection would be intensified. The plant has around 4,800 workers and produces the Polo and T-Cross models.
Aston Martin said it plans to restart its St Athan factory in south Wales on May 5 and will also resume operations at Gaydon later. It also announced pay cuts of between 5% and 35% for its senior managers.
But there is no disguising the huge financial damage suffered by the carmakers. Renault said it in talks with the French government to secure a state-backed loan worth several billion euros by mid-May to shore up its liquidity.
Renault, which is 15% owned by the French state, was lining up credit lines and aid when possible, including in France and emerging markets.
And Sweden’s Volvo warned of stalling truck orders and a challenging adjustment to a “new normal” of feebler demand after reporting a smaller-than-expected fall in quarterly operating earnings helped by service sales. The rival to Germany’s Daimler and VW Traton said its net order intake had turned negative since the end of March as customers rushed to cancel planned truck purchases due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, two of Britain’s best-known homebuilders -- Taylor Wimpey and Vistry, formerly called Bovis Homes, said they were planning to restart construction work in the next two weeks.