Toyota Delays North American Restart; Europe Ramps Up

Toyota says its decision to delay by one week the reopening of its North American plants is based on “an extensive review with our supplier and logistics network.”

Jim Irwin, Associate Editor

May 5, 2020

2 Min Read
Bugatti resumes building cars by hand.

Toyota again delays reopening its North American plants, while Bugatti becomes the latest European automaker to resume production as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Toyota’s North American plants have been closed since March 23 due to the pandemic, and the automaker has announced several attempts to restart production since then. The latest plan called for Toyota to restart this week, but the reopening is now pushed to next week.

The action is based on “an extensive review with our supplier and logistics network,” Toyota says, adding it will reopen its plants in compliance with federal health and safety guidelines, and with local and state ordinances where the facilities are located.

Among other automakers in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz last week began operating one of three shifts at its SUV plant in Vance, AL. Parent Daimler said it took “robust and best-practice safety measures” to ensure reopening the plant was safe.

Meanwhile, Bugatti resumed production of its Chiron and Divo hyper sports cars Monday at its main factory in Molsheim in the Alsace region of eastern France.

“With the help of the safety measures that we have put in place, we are finally making cars by hand again,” Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann says. “That’s an important sign for all of our employees and our customers.”

A Bugatti task force has been developing safety procedures for the restart, taking into consideration the French government’s legal requirements and international experts’ recommendations.

Skoda assembly.jpg

Skoda assembly

France, one of the European countries hit hardest by COVID-19 with about 25,000 deaths, has extended a public health emergency to July 24. The government, however, plans to lift some lockdown measures next week.

Ferrari says it will resume full production Friday at its plant in Maranello, Italy, following the longest shutdown in the sports car maker’s history. Worker safety measures include training sessions and COVID-19 antibody tests that began several weeks ago.

Among the first European facilities to reopen were the Volkswagen passenger cars factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, and the commercial-vehicles plant run by Sevel, a joint venture between Fiat Chrysler and PSA in Atessa, Italy. Both resumed production April 27.

Production resumed April 26 at Volkswagen Group subsidiary Skoda’s three Czech Republic plants (pictured above, left) after a 39-day shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As with most other automakers that have reopened, workers are being issued protective face masks and undergoing temperature checks at plant entrances.

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