Reliable sources familiar with the situation in China indicate there is no short-term impact on production at PSA as the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc around the world.
The French manufacturer – acting on instructions from the Chinese authorities and in common with other companies – has extended the shutdown of its operations in Wuhan to 14 February.
The coronavirus continues to spread, with some Western companies such as FCA now starting to sound the alarm, although PSA is confident it can weather the storm for now at least.
“For the time being factories are working as usual in Europe,” the reliable China source told just-auto.
“What is clear is [there is] a specific working group on China. Like all carmakers, [PSA is] waiting for the next instruction from the Chinese authorities to resume production or not.
“For sourcing [there are] different countries for plants – the working group is working on that.”
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France mounted a major operation this week involving two repatriation flights – one involving an Air Force aircraft and the other a civil airliner – to evacuate a large proportion of French and European citizens – including PSA employees – back to Marseilles where they are now being quarantined for two weeks.
PSA had a number of employees in Wuhan where the epicentre of outbreak is situated, but all those staff have now returned to France and are being monitored in accordance with internationally accepted quarantine norms of 14 days.
“All 38 [PSA personnel] are now with their families in quarantine in the South of France,” added the source. “The ones who were on holiday abroad in China are now coming back to France as well.”
The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China has released figures recording 631 coronavirus deaths in 31 mainland provinces as of midnight on 6 February, with nearly 29,000 confirmed cases. So far, 314,028 people have been identified as having had close contact with infected patients, while 186,045 are now under medical observation. A total of 1,540 patients have been cured.
Hubei Province – in which Wuhan is situated – issued the directive to extend the Chinese Lunar New holidays – themselves already stretched to 2 February by a further 12 days as authorities struggle to contain the virus.
Wuhan is where several French companies including PSA, Renault, Faurecia, Plastic Omnium and Valeo have operations and to where Beijing has sent thousands of medical staff in a bid to combat the outbreak.
The sheer scale of the problem can be gauged by the difficulties in effectively sealing the city of Wuhan, with its 11m population, as well as imposing draconian travel restrictions.
The latter in particular has caused logistical problems for those wishing to reach Wuhan Airport, a situation recognised by the British government, which is providing a third repatriation flight this weekend to evacuate its remaining citizens to the UK.
China is about to have a fresh headache however, as the extended end of what they term the Spring Festival, will see authorities impose quarantine areas on public transport in a bid to stop any coronavirus spread.
State-run agencies note The Ministry of Transport will set up a temporary quarantine area at the back of public transport vehicles for emergencies, in information published by the State Council for the People’s Republic of China.
Those who suddenly have a fever or other symptoms will be isolated in those areas and moved to a test station for more evaluation.
Travel is due to spike sharply around 9 February with the end of the holiday period, as 400m trips are made.
Even that number however, is a fraction of the normal amount of journeys, being some 70% less than usual for the end of the Festival.