Volkswagen Group to suspend production, warns of difficult year

FILE PHOTO: A Volkswagen logo is pictured in a production line at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE, the world's largest carmaker, said it is preparing to shut down its factories as a way to curb the spread of the coronavirus and warned that 2020 will be a very difficult year.

“Given the present significant deterioration in the sales situation and the heightened uncertainty regarding parts supplies to our plants, production is to be suspended in the near future at factories operated by Group brands,” Chief Executive Herbert Diess said on Tuesday.

Production will be halted at Spanish plants, in Setubal in Portugal, Bratislava in Slovakia and at the Lamborghini and Ducati plants in Italy before the end of this week, he said.

Most of the other German and European plants will begin preparing to suspend production, probably for two to three weeks, VW said.

By contrast, production in China has been resumed with the exception of the VW factories in Changsha and Urumqi.

Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter said, “2020 will be a very difficult year. The corona pandemic presents us with unknown operational and financial challenges. At the same time, there are concerns about sustained economic impacts.”

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Riham Alkousaa