Car manufacturers across Europe are reopening factories and restarting production as governments around the world begin to ease coronavirus restrictions – although assembly lines in other regions may need to wait another month or more.
Volkswagen, Renault, PSA, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz have begun reinstating their manufacturing operations in plants across Europe, while examining viable ways to eventually do the same for their production sites in the United States and Asia.
UPDATE (24/4/20): Jaguar Land Rover has announced plans to gradually resume production. Details in story.
But while relaxed restrictions in Europe have allowed for staggered or limited operations to restart for some automakers, companies with manufacturing locations in the United States are expected to remain shut through to late April or early May.
As US giants like General Motors, Ford and FCA shift their focus to the production of ventilators, Detroit News reports Honda, Toyota and Hyundai's plants will be closed through May 1, while Nissan's plants will remain shut down through late April.
However, Subaru is set to resume production at its Indiana plant on May 11, while Volkswagen says its facilities in the United States will increase production from April 27.
In Europe, Volkswagen was one of the first to reimplement wide-scale operations, reopening its plants in Zickau, Germany, and Bratislava, Slovakia, from April 20, a Reuters report said.
Meanwhile, its plants in Spain, Portugal and Russia will increase production from April 27 and its factories in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and South Africa will follow suit in May.
"[C]onditions have been established for the gradual resumption of production,” Ralf Brandstaetter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen Group, said in a statement.
Production at Volkswagen Group's Audi site in Hungary also restarted, while 32 of Volkswagen's 33 plants in China have also resumed operations.
Jaguar Land Rover announced it would gradually resume production from May 18 at its factories in the United Kingdom, Slovakia and Austria after reinstating production at its plant in Changshu, China, back in February.
Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, said it will resume production at three of its German plants, with plans to ramp up operations at two more.
Fellow German heavyweight BMW, however, has paused its production operations until the end of April and has not outlined any plans for recommencement, while sports car maker Ferrari said its two Italian plants would remain closed until May 3.
Toyota – which produces the Yaris at its factory in Valenciennes in northern France – was the first automaker there to agree to a gradual restart of production from April 21 at reduced capacity, Yahoo! Finance reported, with its plant in Poland set to do the same.
"It is understood that the best way to restart is under no volume pressure, with focus on health and safety," a statement from the Japanese company said.
Renault will partly reinstate operations in Portugal and Romania, while Hyundai will do the same with reduced shifts at its manufacturing facility in the Czech Republic as well as reopening its plant in Turkey.
Both PSA and Renault were preparing to restart operations in France but yet to confirm timing.
In France, Yahoo! Finance said labour unions and carmakers were working to establish safety protocols for the ongoing protection of workers, including giving out individual ashtrays to avoid group gatherings and disinfecting tools and surfaces every 60 minutes.
Elsewhere in the world, reduced demand and government restrictions have seen manufacturers adjust their output accordingly.
Toyota said it will cut production of finished vehicles in Japan by 40 per cent in May, while in South Korea, one of the first nations to implement early containment measures, vehicle production in the first two months of the year declined 27.9 per cent.
In India, where lockdowns were recently extended until May 3, passenger vehicle production in March fell 38.1 per cent year on year.
Auto production in China, however, is mostly back up and running, after companies like BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Nissan, SAIC, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen all re-started operations in mid-February.