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The Volkswagen brand said late on Tuesday (17 March) it would suspend production on Thursday (19 March) for two weeks due to the coronavirus crisis, as reported earlier by local media.

VW Group Components factories are also affected.

Initially, production facilities in Wolfsburg, Emden, Dresden, Osnabrück, Zwickau, Bratislava (Slovakia), Pamplona (Spain) and Palmela (Portugal) are affected, as well as oarts plants at Brunswick, Chemnitz, Hanover, Kassel, Salzgitter and Sitech.     

VW said it was “responding above all to the accelerated rate of infection by coronavirus, the resulting interruption in supply chains and the rapid decline in demand on the automotive markets”.

“For the affected German sites, the measures are to apply from the end of the late shift on Thursday,” VW said in a statement.

Ralf Brandstaetter, chief operation officer of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, said: “The spread of coronavirus in Europe is increasingly having an adverse impact on the demand situation.

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By GlobalData

“At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to supply our plants with outsourced parts.

“For this reason, we have decided to run production down in a coordinated way from the end of the late shift on Thursday.

“We are convinced that this will also be in the interests of our employees who are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of corona[virus].”

Gunnar Kilian, HR board member of the VW group, added: “We have also supplemented our comprehensive health protection measures with a number of other measures. We understand the concerns of our employees. Since the beginning of the corona epidemic in China, we have consistently operated on the basis of the principle that health is our top priority. Our employees can rely on that.”

Works council chairman Bernd Osterloh welcomed the suspension of production: “At times when people can no longer meet on playgrounds or for concerts, go to church or visit restaurants in the evening and are no longer buying cars, and VW has supply problems, production cannot simply continue as if nothing had happened.

“For our colleagues in production, there are is therefore no alternative to the controlled suspension of production. All the points which remain open will be clarified between the company and the works council.”

From today, company canteens, self service shops, cafeterias, bistros, restaurants and catering services will be closed. All meetings will be held by Skype or video and all major events have been cancelled.

Special protection applies for employees with special health risks as a result of pre-existing conditions affecting the heart or lungs and employees with weakened immune systems, among others.

VW employees returning to Germany from other countries after 14 March were forbidden with immediate effect from entering plant sites and other VW AG facilites during the incubation period of 14 weekdays.

Mobile working is possible for up to five days per week.

The measures also include a general halt to business trips – for all plants and also to other countries as well as trips between locations. Internal shuttle flights between locations have already been halted.