Ralf Brandstätter, chief operation officer of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, said that in addition to demand and supply chain issues, the company was “convinced that this will also be in the interests of our employees who are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of corona.”
Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the automaker’s powerful Works Council, said “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,” Osterloh said.
Volkswagen owns other car brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini and Porsche, among others. Volkswagen has 124 production sites worldwide, Reuters reported. Seventy-two are in Europe, and 28 in Germany alone.
Volkswagen also operates a large factory in Puebla, Mexico, along with plants in Brazil and the United States. As of Wednesday, plants outside of Europe are not affected, the company told The Post.
Volkswagen Group sold 10.96 million cars last year, outpacing Toyota. It employs 671,000 people around the world and delivered 4.86 million vehicles to European customers last year.
Company cafeterias, restaurants, and self-service shops will be closed. All major events have been canceled and all meetings will be held over video conference. Employees returning to Germany from other countries after March 14 will be forbidden from entering plant sites and other Volkswagen facilities for 14 weekdays.
In the United States, the United Auto Workers union clashed with Detroit’s Big 3 automakers Tuesday. The union said it had urged production to stop for two weeks, but that those requests were rebuffed and the companies instead asked for 48 hours to formulate a plan. That window expired Tuesday evening, at which point the companies and union spent hours deliberating.
In a statement late Tuesday, the UAW said General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler had agreed to a rotating partial shutdown of facilities, deep cleanings of plants and equipments between shifts and protocols to avoid person-to-person contact. Workers will be on shift rotations to minimize risk. More information was expected to be released Wednesday.