Volkswagen (OTC:VWAGY) said that it has reopened a factory in Germany that makes electric cars, aiming to gradually resume production around the world following shutdowns amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Volkswagen said that its factory in Zwickau, Germany, resumed production of the ID.3 electric hatchback on Thursday, but at a much-reduced speed and with new measures in place to protect workers from COVID-19.
VW said that the factory will produce 50 ID.3 vehicles per day, down from about 150 per day before the pandemic forced VW to idle the plant in mid-March.
As a condition of reopening the factory, VW's management and labor representatives agreed on an elaborate set of measures to protect workers concerned about the coronavirus.
Those include specific rules on keeping distance, a requirement to wear masks whenever it's not possible to stay at least 1.5 meters away from others, staggered shifts to reduce the number of people in the factory at any given time, and a request to workers to take their temperature every day before coming to work.
Labor representative Jens Rothe said that the company agreed that workers' health is the highest priority right now. "We have reached 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," Rothe said.
VW plans to reopen its other factories in Germany in stages over the next couple of weeks. It is also working to reopen its factories outside of Germany, including its assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Chattanooga factory is set to resume production on May 4.