Coronavirus: carmakers suspend production

18 March 2020

Volkswagen, BMW and Toyota are the latest automotive giants to halt production in Europe following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Volkswagen is suspending production at its European factories due to supply uncertainty around the virus and declining sales in Europe. 

“The outlook for the current business performance is complicated by uncertainty in connection with the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Given the increasingly challenging and dynamic situation for suppliers and in terms of logistics, it is no longer possible to continually provide factories with a stable supply,” it said. 

“At the same time, there are signs of declining sales in Europe. Therefore, the Volkswagen brand will suspend production at European factories initially for an estimated 10 business days.”

The automaker said production would be halted at plants in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany. 

Alexander Seitz, CFO of Volkswagen, said: “The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented and will undoubtedly have an impact on the business performance of the Volkswagen brand. At the moment, we cannot gauge the extent of the impact. 

“We will do everything to protect our employees and stabilise our business. We are closely monitoring the situation and whenever necessary, will take measures to mitigate negative effects as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, BMW announced it would cease production at its sites in Oxford and Swindon due to the “rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic”.

The carmaker has around 8,000 staff in the UK spread across its plants in Oxford, Swindon, Hams Hall and its Rolls Royce factory at Goodwood.

BMW said: “Due to the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic we have taken the difficult decision to cease production at our production sites at Oxford and Swindon as of Monday next week [23 March] for a period of four weeks until 17 April.

“The plans for Hams Hall are under development and a subsequent announcement will be made.”

Toyota also announced it would be suspending production at its European plants from 18 March “until further notice”.

Production has already been suspended at its plant in Onnaing, France, and it will be halted in Burnaston and Deeside in the UK, Walbrzych and Jelcz-Laskowice in Poland, Kolin in the Czech Republic and Sakarya in Turkey in the coming days. 

Separately, Amazon told third-party sellers it would be “temporarily prioritising” household staples and medical supplies to meet customer demand, according to CNBC

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are temporarily prioritising household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers.

“We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding as we temporarily prioritise these products for customers.”

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