Porsche has announced that it will restart production in both Leipzig and Zuffenhausen from next Monday, May 4th. The manufacturer initially closed production due to coronavirus on March 21st for two weeks and said it would continue to assess the situation. The factories remained closed for six weeks due to issues with global supply chains, but that problem now appears to be sorted.
“We want to make the most of opportunities”: CEO
“It will take a great deal of effort to get the economic and social system moving again and we must all contribute to this,” said Oliver Blume, Porsche AG’s chairman. “It is important to have a positive fundamental attitude. Every crisis also offers opportunities and we want to make the most of them.” I think he is completely correct.
Porsche says it is restarting production on a site- and task-specific basis and that all the required measures have been taken to guarantee the maximum possible safety for employees. Adapted processes in production, logistics and procurement in line with social distancing measures have been agreed with the Works Council and the Health Management department. The requirements of the respective authorities will also be observed.
“The restart is an important signal – for our employees as well as for our customers. We have monitored and analysed the situation very carefully right from the start and flexibly adapted processes. Now is the right time to look forward with optimism and to resume work – subject to special precautions,” says Albrecht Reimold, Member of the Executive Board for Production and Logistics at Porsche AG.
The situation has also been improving in the UK. The dealer group Vertu announced today that it would bring 1,000 sales and service staff out of furlough to cope with high demand online. This tallies with my own experience of car sales enquiry levels and what I have heard from dealer group friends over lockdown. Vertu has 6,000 staff members furloughed, so, assuming the first wave goes well, it probably won’t be too long before more of those people return.
Car sales in coronavirus lockdown
The British Government recently clarified guidelines for selling and handing over cars. As most of garages I frequent are small scale local operations, they have all been open since the start of the lockdown. Many garage owners are one man bands who cannot afford to stop working and who also create no risk to others by going into work, as they are isolated inside a locked workshop.
The main problem with garage work right now is getting the parts. Fabrication for restoration and paint prep etc are OK to complete but, if the local Euro Car Parts does not have the parts on the shelf, it’s a case of scouring online sources for available parts as many of the parts wholesalers and distribution centres are closed. I have ordered a lot of parts online for my projects and they have all come in fairly short order, even when coming from as far away as Latvia and Lithuania.
Watching other countries taking cautious first steps out of their respective lockdowns has provoked some interesting questions, but getting fully “back to normal” (defined as “how things used to be”) could take years, according to some commentators I’ve read this week. I’m not sure there will ever be a “get back to normal” for World 2.0. A new normal is perhaps a more likely scenario and it will not be unwelcome. We can certainly hope for the best.
Porsche’s other measures to counter the spread of coronavirus remain in place at this time. An increased level of “mobile working” will continue and meetings will be held as video or telephone conferences. The company ban on business travel continues to apply.