Volkswagen has announced that production at its main Wolfsburg plant has officially resumed (second to open after its Zwickau facility), with some 8,000 employees making their return to production bays. The first car to roll off the line was a Golf, and the factory is currently operating at a one-shift basis.

The plant is expected to produce approximately 1,400 vehicles by the end of the first week, a figure that would more than triple (6,000 units) in the following week once the multi-shift phase kicks in. Even at this level, production is only around 40% of its pre-coronavirus output.

To ensure employee safety, the Volkswagen Group has implemented around 100 health protection measures, including specific rules on distances and hygiene, daily temperature screenings, walkway diversions to prevent close contact between workers, and increased cleaning and sanitising frequency of tools and facilities. In fact, several hundred additional hand-washing facilities have been installed throughout the plant.

Other measures include converting conference rooms into office spaces, but employees are still allowed to work from home. To maximise information and awareness, over 8,000 posters are on display at the plant, and every employee has received a booklet detailing every preventive and precautionary measure.

Besides that, Volkswagen’s network of suppliers – some 2,600 of them, mostly in Germany – have also resumed production. It has 40,000 suppliers and logistic partners around the world, and all of them were given the 100-point safety plan.

Under normal operating conditions, the suppliers deliver around 21,000 different parts to the Wolfsburg plant every day in about 2,000 trucks and 100 rail cars. Every day, around 180 double-decker rail cars and some 185 car transporters leave the plant. Dealerships have also been given the green light to deliver vehicles to customers. To date, some 70% of dealers have already resumed operations.

Lower Saxony’s minister-president, Stephan Weil said: “I am delighted that Volkswagen is gradually ramping up production again. The priority given to protecting the health of employees is exemplary. The works council and board of management have jointly developed a concept that is in a class of its own.”

“This Wednesday, I will be meeting with the minister-presidents of the automotive strongholds of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to discuss how we can boost vehicle sales quickly. If we succeed in creating a purchase incentive that simultaneously prioritises ecological aspects, that would be good for employment, the economy and the climate,” he added.