Volkswagen suspends production in Europe, but SA plant still fully operational

Local carmakers do not foresee any disruptions to their manufacturing lines amid the coronavirus outbreak, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Naamsa's members include auto-manufacturers such as Toyota, Isuzu, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.

For now the Volkswagen plant in Uitenhage remains fully operational, Andile Dlamini, spokesperson of Volkswagen SA told Fin24 on Tuesday afternoon.

"Our employees, who work in three shifts at the plant, five days a week, have been trained as part of precautionary measures and we will continue to monitor the situation as we go along," he said.

Volkswagen is suspending production in Europe in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to President Cyril Ramaphosa's declaration of a national state of disaster, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the CEOs of major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and senior representatives of independent vehicles importers met on Tuesday to discuss a response plan for the automotive industry.

"All OEMs will continue to work very closely with their supply chain component manufacturers and partners to monitor developments locally and globally.

"Currently there are no planned disruptions to any of our manufacturing lines across the country," Naamsa said, following its meeting.

Naamsa said it would work with through its supply chain committee to monitor any production constraints. "We will keep the market timeously informed should there be material changes in this regard," the association said.

The automotive industry contributes 6.9% to GDP – 4.4% is this attributed to manufacturing and 2.5% is attributed to retail. The industry accounts for 30.1% of the country's manufacturing output and vehicle components are exported to 155 international markets, according to Naamsa. The manufacturing side of the industry employs more than 110 000 people and the sector as a whole supports 457 000 jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Among the precautionary measures to be implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus include cancelling gatherings and meetings with more then 100 people in attendance, cancelling plant tours, distributing hand sanitisers at plants and offices, international travel has been banned, with employees returning from international travel to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Any customer, employee, supplier or visitor who tests positive for Covid-19 will also be immediately quarantined and their primary contacts will also have to go for a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days.

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