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Volkswagen begins plotting factory openings

Open for business: Volkswagen is hoping to open two plants next week, including Zwickau (left) and Bratislava (below).

Volkswagen, Audi plan resumption of production, Bentley extends shutdown

17 Apr 2020

VOLKSWAGEN has announced its plans to begin reopening its production facilities next week, as the German auto giant looks to gets its manufacturing efforts back on track in the face of the COVID-19 virus.


The brand has announced it plans to reopen two of its major production facilities starting the week of April 20, the first being its Zwickau plant in the country’s east, which manufactures the Golf small car, the ID.3 EV and the bodies for the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus.


In 2019, the Zwickau plant churned out 170,324 vehicles and 10,515 car bodies, employing roughly 8000 people.


The other plant to be opened next week is the Bratislava plant in Slovakia, a crucial plant for the brand that produces vehicles, gearboxes and components for Volkswagen Group.


Models built at the Bratislava plant include the Volkswagen Touareg, Up, e-Up, Audi Q7 and Q8, Porsche Cayenne, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo, as well as the assembly of gearboxes.


Combined with the nearby Martin plant, the Bratislava factory produced 408,208 vehicles, 383,640 gearboxes and 33.6 million components, with Bratislava employing 14,800 people.


The next week, starting April 27, Volkswagen will look to reopen its remaining plants in Germany, as well as its production facilities in Portugal, Spain, Russia and the US.


Through next month, production will continue to ramp up with more international plants opening in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.


Volkswagen COO Ralf Brandstatter said the company had carefully planned its path to reopening its facilities.


“With the decisions by the federal and state governments in Germany and the loosening of restrictions in other European states, conditions have been established for the gradual resumption of production,” he said.


“Volkswagen has prepared intensively for these steps over the past three weeks. In addition to developing a comprehensive catalogue of measures for the protection of our employees’ health, we have also forged ahead with the re-establishment of our supply chains.”


The brand also stressed the importance of complying with stringent health measures for employees to prevent workers from contracting COVID-19, and has developed a 100-point plan for working under such conditions.


According to Bloomberg, Audi is looking at reopening its plants as well, with around 100 employees back to work at its engine plant in Gyor, Hungary, on a single shift. A second line is expected to be opened by the end of this week.


Bentley has declared it is extending its shutdown until May 11, extending the shutdown for an extra three weeks over the April 20 date it was originally shooting for.


Instead, the brand will introduce limited production for the first week, before returning to full production on May 18.


According to British publication Autocar, the shutdown has affected production of the swansong Mulsanne 6.75 Edition, the final send-off for Bentley’s flagship limousine that has been in production since 2009.


The 6.75 Edition name also comes from the fact that it will be the final vehicle to feature Bentley’s imposing 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, good for a fearsome 395kW/1100Nm.

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