It looks like Volkswagen is slowly getting back on its feet. After several weeks of being idle, the automaker has announced that several of its vehicles and components plants in Germany have resumed production. But that doesn't mean that factories like the one in Zwickau (which builds the all-new ID.3 EV) will start building vehicles in droves.
Instead, the company decided to slowly restart vehicle production with a reduced capacity and slower cycle times. This was done in order to protect the factory workers' health and well-being amid the country's slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially only 50 units of the ID.3 will be produced per day in Zwickau, which corresponds to about 1/3 of the production volume prior to the pandemic.
“We all have a historic task to accomplish. That task is to protect the health of our employees - and at the same time get business back on track responsibly. At Volkswagen, health takes precedence over speed. That is why the primary concern at the moment is not how many cars can be built per day. What is more important is that the e-mobility transformation process already underway begins gathering pace again today,” said Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen Brand Board member for E-Mobility and Speaker of the Management Board of Volkswagen Sachsen.
Some of the measures that the company has laid out include specific rules on distances and hygiene. Each worker will be required to wear mouth and nose protection in areas where minimum safe distances of 1.5 meters are not possible. In addition, there will be a separation of shifts, constant body temperature check by the employees on themselves, and shorter cleaning intervals.
Aside from the Zwickau factory, several other components facilities have already commenced production once more. But just like the factory that builds the ID.3, protective measures and practices have been put in place in order to protect the workers from catching (or transmitting) the disease. Also joining the gradual restart of production is the Chemnitz engine plant which makes gasoline-powered engines, balance shafts, and integrated valve modules.
Jens Rothe, Chairman of the General Works Council at Volkswagen Sachsen, said that they will not be taking risks and that the protection and safety of their workforce is the utmost priority. “We have reached an agreement with the company on new measures to protect employees. One thing is clear: We will not be taking any risks, the health of employees has absolute priority – even if it means producing fewer cars,” added Rothe.
As of today, Germany has 157,770 confirmed cases of the disease. However, the country also has a total of 112,000 recoveries, and 5,976 confirmed deaths. With only less than 40,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Germany right now, the country is on its way to recovery. Once the virus has been dealt with, Volkswagen plans to open several more plants in the country.