By on March 17, 2020

With reports of factory shutdowns now being the norm, Volkswagen and Toyota have predictably decided to idle facilities in Europe to mitigate the negative influence of the novel coronavirus. VW Group had already made plans to temporarily close assembly lines in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. But said that the entirety of Europe will probably be affected this month.

Toyota was singing a similar song on Tuesday morning, saying it would suspend production in France and Portugal this week. Considering the sameness of these virus-related cancelations, we’ll not bore you with any recaps — you know how we got here. Instead, here’s the gist of the manufacturers’ respective strategies: 

Given that Volkswagen Group was previously aiming to close facilities in the most-affected areas, it’s plan basically involves gradually closing factories in the places it believes are next on COVID-19’s hit list. According to Reuters, that begins this week with its Spanish plants, Setubal in Portugal, and Bratislava in Slovakia — it’s also stalling the Lamborghini and Ducati facilities in Italy. From there, VW says it’s going to eventually shutter the rest of its European sites. Most closures are expected to last at least two weeks.

“Given the present significant deterioration in the sales situation and the heightened uncertainty regarding parts supplies to our plants, production is to be suspended in the near future at factories operated by group brands,” VW Group CEO Herbert Diess announced on Tuesday.

German unions have also decided that it’s not feasible to have line workers spaced at distances sufficient to avoid possible contagion risks. VW’s own works council likewise recommended suspending production to ensure public safety.

“2020 will be a very difficult year,” Diess said. “The corona pandemic presents us with unknown operational and financial challenges. At the same time, there are concerns about sustained economic impacts.”

With Toyota, things are a bit more fluid. The Japanese automaker has made plans to stall all production in France (where it builds the Yaris) and Portugal (where it builds the 70 Series Land Cruiser) through the end of the month. Toyota said it was suspending output at facilities in line with government guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. That has similarly encouraged it to idle production in the Philippines and China — though some of those sites have reportedly reopened.

Interestingly, Toyota seems to be one of the few Japanese manufactures that isn’t suffering major supply issues. Most of its local rivals have had to alter production schedules as parts have become harder to wrangle. By contrast, Toyota’s headaches seem to stem almost entirely from government-endorsed quarantines. But we’re presuming that will gradually become an issue for all automakers.

Despite news of Chinese facilities resuming operations, many sites are reportedly running with a skeleton crew. Plenty of employees are still electing to stay home as companies are being told by their government to get back to work and prop up the ailing Chinese economy. Supply lines will remain wonky for a while until that changes. As such, we’re expecting more brands to announce factory stalls over the next few days due to parts shortages and exceptionally low consumer demand — with others closing facilities due to government initiatives attempting to cope with the pending health crisis.

[Image: U.J. Alexander/Shutterstock]

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14 Comments on “Volkswagen Group Planning to Stall European Production, Same for Toyota...”

  • avatar

    Well, VW has a plant in the US making Passats, and a plant in Mexico making Jettas. If they can build them to Euro specs, they can keep their European dealers in stock with those vehicles.

  • avatar

    So it’s all about part shortages and the virus is just a nuisance thing, once again the almighty dollar rules the world!

    • 0 avatar

      The virus just just a flu bug during flu season. While the mainstream media has been promoting panic and “quarantings”, the Chinese and Koreans have been quietly curing the so-called deadly virus with an anti-malaria drug, cloroquine phosphate, once given to US troops in Vietnam.

      That mainstream media has been cheering on the drop in the stock market, and is pushing the panic to sink the economy before the election, and elect Joe Biden. As a democrat, I’m disgusted with their disregard for the well-being of the country.

      • 0 avatar

        Guess you’ve got your tinfoil hat on to protect you against such shenanigans!

      • 0 avatar

        this is not a “flu bug,” you jerk. Corona viruses are a completely different type of virus from influenza viruses.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s an influenza virus, the rare type C. The more common are types A and B. SARS was also a C or corona virus in 2003. Labs have been studying it for seventeen years.

          Covid-19 is much less lethal than SARS, but spreads more easily. The heart of the flu season is concurrent with winter and is primarily in the snow zone in America.

          The regular type A flu has killed 10,000 so far this flu season, while Covid-19 has killed 68, 40 in Washington state, with 23 of them in just one WA facility for the elderly.

          Covid-19 isn’t even close to a crisis: it doesn’t spread fast enough, nor is it lethal enough. Even the Chinese have gotten it under control, and expect it to pass when warmer weather arrives.

          As for your ‘jerk’ appellation, this is the internet – you might be a monkey banging on a keyboard. I can’t be bothered to wait for you to bang out some Shakespeare.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          There was a time when a personal insult on here would bring forth the ban hammer, no matter the reason.

          • 0 avatar

            You mean when you opened up TTAC at work and were greeted by sex toys?

          • 0 avatar

            “You mean when you opened up TTAC at work and were greeted by sex toys?”


          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            What if I told you there was a whole “Pre Bertel” era where people just talked about cars and this edict was strictly enforced.

            Don’t take that as an indictment of the current management though…more an indictment of the country as a whole.

  • avatar

    Boredom got the best of me, so yesterday I took a drive.

    Some observations : Little traffic anywhere in the GTA .. Bars and restaurants are all closed in Ontario. You could land an Air Bus in the GM parking lot .Costco line ups have shrunk. Gas at .75 a litre (was 1.25 ) Hospitals and Long Term care facilities are in lock down mode. Beer, Liquor, and Pot stores all open and busy.

    Most interesting to this old Boomer ; “I never thought I would live to see the day where you can purchase weed anywhere, but you can’t find Toilet Paper “

  • avatar

    For me it was all the European sedans and hatches. And little British sports cars. And Land Rovers.

    And guess what my garages are full of now that I am in my 50’s, LOL?

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