The world’s largest carmaker, Volkswagen, resumed work on Monday at its biggest factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, amid eased coronavirus lockdown rules. VW says it wants to give workers time to adapt to new hygiene measures.
After a month-long shutdown, around 8,000 workers in Wolfsburg started building cars again on Monday. The factory is planning to build 1,400 cars this week, and 6,000 vehicles during the first two weeks after reopening.
Production capacity at the plant will be at around 10 to 15 percent to begin with, said Andreas Tostmann, VW brand’s board member responsible for production. It will reach around 40 percent of pre-crisis levels in the following week, Tostmann told Reuters.
“The restart of Europe’s biggest car factory after weeks of standstill is an important symbol for our employees, our dealers, suppliers, the German economy and for Europe,” he said.
The manufacturer undertook extra hygiene measures at the plant, including temperature checks. Workers were told to get changed into their overalls at home, to prevent crowding in factory changing rooms. Extra markings have been put on the factory floor so that workers are better able to adhere to the 1.5-meter social distancing rule, with extra time provided for employees to disinfect their tools and surfaces.
In early April, Volkswagen started producing components in Braunschweig, Kassel, Salzgitter, and Hanover, and resumed car manufacturing in Zwickau and Bratislava on April 20, and in Chemnitz on April 23.
This week, the company is expected to re-start production in Portugal, Spain, Russia, South Africa, and South America, and from May 3 in Chattanooga in the United States. VW also said that around 70 percent of its dealerships in Germany have reopened.