Other plants in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Russia and the United States will restart production the following week, with South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico expected to follow in May, the company said.
“With the decisions by the federal and state governments in Germany and the loosening of restrictions in other European states, conditions have been established for the gradual resumption of production,” Ralf Brandstätter, chief operating officer of the Volkswagen brand, said in a statement.
But restarting production at busy factories will be a challenge. Volkswagen said it has put in place 100 measures to keep the risk of infection among employees as low as possible. The company employs about 490,000 people in Europe, the majority of its global workforce of around 670,000.
“We have never developed, produced and sold vehicles under these conditions before,” said Bernd Osterloh, chairman of Volkswagen’s works council.
“This is why I expect our managers to ensure that employees are thoroughly familiar with the new procedures. Taking the time to answer questions is more important now than daily production figures,” the company’s top labor representative added.
Volkswagen said it has already resumed production of parts in several locations in Europe in order to safeguard the supply to China, where 32 of its 33 plants have reopened. No cases of coronavirus have been reported among employees in China, it said.
— Eoin McSweeney contributed to this article.