The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan, China in end-December 2019, is fast spreading its tentacles across the world and is having a major impact on all aspects of society, including the automotive industry. All through January and February, automakers and their suppliers have been scrambling to keep vehicle assembly lines humming but March has seen the industry take concerted action, in sync with government advisories, to keep its personnel safe.
With the World Health Organisation declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, an unprecedented global disruption is at hand. Automobile and component manufacturing plants are being shuttered around the world, consumer footfalls in showrooms have fallen sharply, vehicle sales are dropping dramatically and almost every major industry event is either being cancelled or going the digital way. All of March has been packed with coronavirus-related news and it all started with the cancellation of the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, which was to open on March 5.
Also read: How India's automakers have joined the fight against Coronavirus
Also read: New car, bike warranty extensions due to COVID-19 - A complete list
Here is a timeline detailing how COVID-19 has impacted the automotive industry around the world, and in India.
Friday, May 15
● Mahindra has announced that production at its automotive and engine plants in Haridwar and Igatpuri has begun. The brand has said that all protocols for social distancing and sanitisation are being implemented and enforced.
Tuesday, May 12
● Skoda Auto Volkswagen India’s employees have contributed one day of their salaries to raise over Rs 1.2 crore to fund ventilators and PPE kits. This collected money will fund 15 full featured ventilators, 15 monitors and 3,750 PPE kits for COVID-19 hospitals in Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad. Additionally, the company has also donated Rs 22.34 lakh to Sassoon Hospital, Pune and distributed 21 tons of dry ration to families in need in the Khed and Bhosari villages.
Monday, May 11
● Nissan has reopened dealerships in Green and Orange Zones across the country. It has also resumed operation of its marketing and sales office in Gurugram, though with a skeletal staff for the time being. The move has been done in compliance with new MHA and local government guidelines.
● Yamaha India has announced that its employees have donated a day's salary to aid COVID-19 relief efforts, with the total amount having reached Rs 61.5 lakh. The amount will be distributed among various relief funds - Rs 25 lakh each will be donated to the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund (Government of Tamil Nadu) and Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (Government of Uttar Pradesh). The rest of the amount is being transferred to the PM Cares fund.
Monday, May 4
● The Renault, Nissan alliance plant in Oragadam, Chennai has resumed operation, though in limited capacity. This was done adhering to both MHA guidelines and local government directives.
● TVS has reported nil sales for the month of April 2020, having stopped production earlier on March 23 due to the ensuing nationwide lockdown.
● Bajaj is yet another auto company to register zero domestic sales in April this year. However, the company managed to export 32,009 units during the same period.
● Two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp has said that it is gearing up to resume production at its manufacturing plants in Gurgaon and Dharuhera (Haryana), Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and the Global Parts Center (GPC) in Neemrana (Rajasthan) from May 6.
● Expecting a Rs 1,26,500 crore loss, apex auto industry bodies SIAM, ACMA and FADA have submitted a joint request to the government to restart operations across the entire value chain.
● Leveraging the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) new guidelines for the third phase of the lockdown extended up to May 17, Uber has recommenced operations in 25 cities falling under orange and green zones. On similar lines, rival company Ola has begun its services in 100 cities.
Saturday, May 2
● FCA India is the latest carmaker to launch an online sales platform. Potential buyers can now book and buy the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SRT via the new 'Book My Jeep' module online, without having to visit a Jeep showroom. The brand is also offering special benefits for customers who choose to book their Jeep SUV online. Test drives and deliveries will take place at the customer’s doorstep.
● A study has shown that global vehicle sales in March 2020 witnessed a 39 percent decline to 55.5 lakh units, compared to 90.3 lakh units a year ago, due to the nationwide lockdowns enforced in various countries for arresting the spread of coronavirus.
Friday, May 1
● As a novel gesture of showing appreciation for the services rendered by frontline workers, Audi India has introduced a special initiative. Under the scheme, Audi customers who are involved in the fight against coronavirus at the forefront can avail of complimentary disinfection and cabin cleaning, exterior cleaning and a general check-up of their luxury vehicle. The service, in addition to a pick-up and drop facility, is being extended by all Audi dealerships across the country. Moreover, the leeway that the German marque had announced earlier for service schedules and extended warranties ending between March 15-April 15, 2020 has also been extended for those ending up to May 3.
● Rolls-Royce has announced that it will restart production at its Goodwood factory from May 4, making it the first car manufacturer to recommence operations in Britain after the coronavirus shutdown.
● Flipkart and Mahindra-owned Meru cabs have teamed up to provide people access to grocery and essential items during the ongoing lockdown in Bengaluru, Delhi NCR and Hyderabad regions.
● With the whole nation being under a lockdown throughout April, automotive sales for the month came to a grinding halt. Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra have reported zero sales for the opening month of FY2021.
Thursday, April 30
● In an effort to support frontline workers, BMW has announced that it is offering complimentary engine oil service to doctors for their cars and bikes sold via the BMW, Mini and Motorrad sub-brands. Interested owners can access the facility through the ‘BMW Contactless Experience’ digital portal on the company’s website.
● Jaguar Land Rover has announced an extension on service and warranty for its customers. Service schedule intervals have been extended by two months/3,200km. The company says that retailers will honour warranty commitment for an additional two months for vehicles where “customer concern is reported and repairs could not be completed due to lockdown and the warranty would expire during this period”. Due consideration has also been given to owners whose extended warranties are expiring between March 23 and the end of lockdown. These people are entitled to claim warranty on repairs up to 1,000km or 30 days after the lockdown is lifted.
● Porsche is extending new car warranties for three months for vehicles warranties expiring between March 1 and May 31, 2020. The three-month grace period will be offered beginning from the date of expiration of each individual vehicle’s warranty scheme. The same consideration even applies to customers whose ‘Porsche Approved’ warranties or extended warranties are set to expire in the same time period. These measures come at no additional cost to Porsche owners and are valid worldwide.
● Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has pledged Rs 2 crore towards COVID-19 relief measures in India. As part of the efforts, FCA India Engineering is partnering with not-for-profit organisations in Chennai and Mumbai to distribute 1,500 family kits - each containing dry rations, personal hygiene essentials and PPEs for a family of four-to-five individuals - in the two cities. It will be supplying medical equipment to the Voluntary Health Services hospital in Chennai and air validation systems and medical oxygen pipeline to the Naidu hospital in Pune. Moreover, FCA employees are voluntarily making contributions from their salaries towards relief efforts.
Wednesday, April 29
● MotoGP has announced the cancellation of three further events as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The German (June 21), Dutch (June 28) and Finnish (July 12) Grands Prix are the latest races to be axed, pushing the 2020 season start to late-July, at the earliest. This also means that fans will have to continue waiting to see the return of the Finnish GP; the earlier scheduled race at the KymiRing was supposed to mark the return of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in Finland after 38 years.
● MG Motor India has partnered with Vadodara-based MAX Ventilators to assist in the manufacture of the life-saving medical equipment. The collaboration aims to increase ventilator production by five times to 300 units per month in phase 1, which the companies say should be achieved by end-June. In phase 2, the target is to step up production to 1,000 units per month, depending upon demand.
Monday, April 27
● The 2020 French F1 GP – originally scheduled to take place on June 28 – has been cancelled as a direct result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Organisers cited France’s ban on major events until at least mid-July, along with the closure of the Schengen area until further notice, as the primary reasons behind the decision to cancel the race.
Friday, April 24
● Hyundai Motor India is extending support to the administrations of Delhi, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra by providing 17,000 PPE kits, approximately 20 lakh masks (three-ply as well as N-95), over 1.5 lakh sanitiser kits and 6,000 dry ration packages, together worth more than Rs 9 crore. The company has also donated incinerators to hospitals in Tamil Nadu for the safe disposal of medical waste.
Thursday, April 23
● Two-wheeler maker Bajaj Auto has rebooted operations in at its Aurangabad plant which caters to the company’s export demand. Through this measure, Bajaj seeks to fulfill orders worth Rs 1,000 crore. Reports state that only 850 workers will be allowed to work inside the factory.
● The Piaggio Group has announced that warranties and free service schedules on all Aprilia and Vespa product, which fall in the lockdown period, have been extended for 30 days after the lockdown is lifted.
The company has also extended support to approximately 1,000 migrants by providing food and shelter to stay near the Piaggio factory in Baramati. In addition, Piaggio is working with the local government hospital to build an isolation ward for those affected by COVID-19. The company has also installed a sanitisation unit at the Sassoon Government Hospital in Pune to help healthcare workers. The automaker has distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for these frontline workers as well.
Wednesday, April 22
● Maruti Suzuki has received a green light to restart operations at its Manesar plant. The operations can be carried out only in a single shift and with following of mandatory social distancing guidelines. Maruti Suzuki, however, is yet to decide on when it will resume production. Possible roadblocks include supply chain issues and the company being given permission to restart operations with a limited workforce of just 600 employees.
● Krishna Maruti, a joint venture of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), has begun supplying triple-ply face masks to local authorities. The company had earlier pledged to provide one million face masks, produced in-house, to the Haryana and Gujarat governments each. It has handed over the first batch of 2 lakh masks to authorities in Haryana. Taking their prospective contributions a step further, Ashok Kapur, Chairman, Krishna Group, has stated that he is also “planning to import some machines and produce N-95 masks.”
● MG Motor India has announced that it will be providing 100 units of the Hector SUV to personnel involved in delivering essential services across the country “till the end of May 2020.” The carmaker says that the vehicles will be provided free-of-cost with fuel and chauffeur-driven facilities to ensure safe travel for people at the frontline of the battle against the pandemic, including doctors, medical staff, police and government officials.
● Ducati India is extending warranties till Jun 1,2020 for all motorcycles whose warranty is slated to lapse between March 24 and May 3,2020.
Tuesday, April 21
● Kia Motors India has announced a series of measures to alleviate stress on its dealerships during the lockdown. It will support interest-cost of dealer stocks, including vehicles in physical and transit stock. The company has already remitted unutilised dealer funds in its possession, along with crediting accepted service claims for warranty. Lastly, the auto major is crediting extended warranty payments to dealers and is also assuring priority clearance of all dealer invoices within 15 days of the lockdown being lifted.
Monday, April 20
● Cartist, an Indian group that creates automobile-based artwork, has earmarked 50 of its paintings for an online auction, with the proceeds to be donated to the PM CARES Fund. The 24-hour auction is scheduled for May 9, 2020. Moreover, in an effort to support its young artists, the group will be conducting another auction for their artwork, with all of the collections to be provided to the artists themselves.
● Ride-hailing company Ola launched the ‘Ola Emergency’ feature in Bengaluru, earlier this month and the service has now been expanded to 14 other cities, including Mumbai, Gurugram, Visakhapatnam, Nashik, Varanasi, Indore, Bhopal, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar. People can use the facility for booking trips to hospitals for all non-COVID-related requirements. The company claims that the service is being offered in partnership with the different state governments, and that it ensures that all safety norms are implemented. Over 200 hospitals in Mumbai and around 1,000 hospitals across the listed cities are accessible through ‘Ola Emergency’.
● Having earlier outlined its plans for aiding coronavirus relief measures, Hyundai Motor India has now announced that it has donated a sum of Rs 7 crore to the PM CARES Fund, in addition to pledging another Rs 5 crore to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The automaker is working towards the provision of PPEs to appropriate authorities in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Maharashtra, along with the distribution of dry rations amongst the marginalised in the first two states.
● Maruti Suzuki is undertaking various community outreach programmes to support villages around its Gurugram and Manesar plants in Haryana. The company is leveraging in-house canteens at its manufacturing facilities to prepare and distribute food packets amongst nearby communities – over 1,20,000 such packets have been provided in the last three weeks. The company is also proactively working with the India Red Cross Society to provide dry ration kits in neighbouring villages – it has already distributed 10,000 such kits over the past 21 days. Maruti Suzuki has announced that it is making potable water available at very nominal rates across 16 villages through 17 of its ‘water ATMs’, which can dispense over 1,000 litres of drinking water per hour. Moreover, the auto major has provided 16 waste collection vans for village sanitisation in Manesar and Rohtak and supplied face masks and other protective equipment through the Gurugram administration.
Friday, April 17
● With Germany extending its official ban on large events and public gatherings until August 31, the German round of MotoGP (scheduled for June 21) has now been postponed. The race’s organiser ADAC has confirmed that it is currently in talks with MotoGP promoter Dorna to secure a new date for the event.
● In an effort to alleviate customer concern, Nissan has announced a month’s grace period after the lockdown is lifted for owners whose free services, warranties and extended warranties are expiring during the lockdown. The company is also offering a special service package that includes emergency roadside assistance during the quarantine.
Thursday, April 16
● MG Motor India is assessing the viability of installing cabin-sterilisation tech in the Hector SUV and ZS EV in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is partnering with Singapore-based specialist Medklinn to introduce patented technology that is said to neutralise 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, moulds and other contagions using active oxygen.
● Hyundai had earlier revealed that it had ordered 25,000 advanced diagnostic testing kits for COVID-19 from South Korea. The brand has now handed over the kits, worth Rs 4 crore, to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
● BMW Group India has pledged a sum of Rs 3 crore in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, with its employees also chipping in with voluntary contributions. The Group will aid in the creation of an isolation ward for patients at the Government General Hospital in Chengalpattu, near its Chennai plant. The company will provide critical care equipment to medical facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical personnel and law enforcement agencies in Delhi-NCR and Chennai. Moreover, BMW is also working towards providing nutrition for economically marginalised families in the two cities.
● As per a notification dated April 16, 2020, the Ministry of Finance has further extended the third-party auto insurance renewal deadline. The deadline has been pushed to May 15, and is applicable to those whose insurance expires between March 25 and May 3, 2020.
● Formula E has extended its temporary suspension till the end of June. As a result, the Berlin E-Prix (originally planned for June 21) has been postponed. As per a statement from Formula E, the month of July is being evaluated to host events or reschedule races, provided the coronavirus pandemic stabilises.
Wednesday, April 15
● After the Prime Minister announced an extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification with a new list of activities allowed under the lockdown starting April 20. Auto manufacture, which was touted to be included, however, is not on the list.
● The latest lockdown extension will likely delay the registration deadline for BS4 vehicles that were sold but not registered prior to March 31. The window for sale available for automotive retailers to sell their remaining BS4 stock is also likely to be deferred.
Tuesday, April 14
● Initially launched in Hyderabad, Mahindra Logistics’ Alyte emergency taxi services have been introduced in Mumbai, in collaboration with the Mumbai Police Commissionerate. The free service can be availed by single mothers, differently abled individuals and senior citizens for essential transportation needs like visits to the bank, post office, periodical medical check-ups, and shopping for essentials.
Monday, April 13
● Royal Enfield has announced a two-month extension for RE owners of free services and warranties expiring between March 22 and April 14, 2020.
● Volkswagen India has announced that it will be contributing to the PM CARES fund for every car it delivers to healthcare professionals.
The carmaker has also extended special benefits towards prospective and existing healthcare professionals who own a VW car, including enhanced vehicle protection plans, benefits on purchasing a new model, as well as extended warranties. The enhanced vehicle protection plan includes 10-point check-up, along with AC disinfectant and Germkleen treatment, all at no added cost. The benefits can be availed till June 30, 2020.
The carmaker also said that it has started virtual training of its dealership teams to ensure best sanitization and hygiene practices once operations resume.
● Tata Motors has launched its digital sales platform ‘Click to Drive’, which allows customers to purchase a car from their portfolio without having to step out of their home. The platform connects customers with over 750 of the carmaker’s outlets across the country, and gives them the option of home delivery at a later date for their new car.
● Renault has announced a relaxation of the warranty policy and periodic service schedule of its cars for the duration of the lockdown, along with launching a new online booking campaign. Under the campaign, customers can book a Renault car either via the company website or through Renault’s app, without requiring to immediately pay a booking amount.
The carmaker has also announced support for its dealer network that includes financial incentives as well as providing online training to sales teams.
● Ola has launched a new service called ‘Ola Emergency’ in Bengaluru, Karnataka that allows citizens to book taxis via the Ola app for non COVID related medical trips to the hospital. Customers can choose from a select list of hospitals in the city as their destination and the cars and drivers in this service come equipped with masks and sanitizer. This feature is also slated to launch in other major cities soon.
● Hyundai India has made its ‘Click to Buy’ - online car sales platform available pan-India. The sales platform has now incorporated over 500 Hyundai dealerships spread across the country. The service gives customers the ability to purchase any Hyundai car online via the ‘Click to buy’ platform without needing to physically visit a dealership.
● Mahindra Logistic’ Alyte will be providing emergency cab services in Hyderabad to people affected by the current transportation situation caused by the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. These services are focused on single mothers, differently-abled individuals, senior citizens, doctors, nurses, etc., and will be provided to secure transport for essential services like shopping for essentials and medication, visits to banks, post offices and periodic medical visits.
● The 2020 Formula 1 season won’t be getting underway any time soon, with organisers of the Canadian GP postponing the race as the world continues to come to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic. The race was originally scheduled to be held on June 14, but organisers are hoping to secure a later date in the calendar, once the situation improves. This puts the French GP (June 28) next up on the list as the first F1 race for this year.
Tuesday, April 7
● Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Citroen has announced that it has pushed back the launch of its first model for India, the C5 Aircross, to the first quarter of 2021. The carmaker had originally planned to launch the SUV in the second-half of 2020. In a statement, the carmaker said, “The re-timing is aimed to move the commercial launch to a potentially more positive economic activity period where consumer sentiments are upbeat.”
However, the French carmaker has said that launches of its made-in-India models are still on track, with the first model – the C21 compact SUV – expected to arrive next year.
● The Italian and Catalan Grands Prix – originally slated to be held on May 31 and June 7 respectively -are the latest set of MotoGP races to now be postponed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The FIM has released a statement saying that new dates for these races “cannot be confirmed until it becomes clearer when exactly it will be possible to hold the events”. The postponement of the Catalan GP also means that fans will have to wait longer to see Jorge Lorenzo make his one-off MotoGP return. The retired MotoGP champion was supposed to compete in the race as a wildcard entry for Yamaha.
● Ford India has announced it has started to manufacture face shields at its plants in Chennai and Sanand. The carmaker also provided an extension of its warranty schemes and service programmes. It stated that all warranties expiring between March 15 and May 30, 2020 will now be valid until June 30. The same extension is also applicable to all scheduled services, including the free services. The carmaker is also offering 24-hour road side assistance (RSA) to all its customers at no cost, and is available irrespective of if they have purchased the RSA option, or the age of the car.
Ford also announced a price protection programme for anyone who makes a booking until April 30.
Monday, April 6
● Toyota has initiated a ‘Customer Connect’ program to alleviate inconveniences for owners in light of the national coronavirus shutdown. The company has announced an extension of vehicle warranty for new vehicles as well as vehicles purchased from Toyota U-Trust, free maintenance service, roadside assistance, extended warranty, and the ‘Smiles’ pre-paid maintenance package for up to two months. Toyota will also be extending free emergency support to customers who don’t have coverage till 15 days post the lockdown. The automaker says that there will be an extension till May 31, 2020 for owners whose respective programs and products may have expired during the shutdown. Moreover, services such as vehicle inspection, cabin care and tyre- and battery-related services will be provided at special prices once Toyota dealerships are operational.
Saturday, March 28
● In the US, Ford has begun work on manufacturing ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPEs). The automaker is partnering with GE Healthcare to expand production of a simplified version of the latter’s existing ventilator design. It is collaborating with 3M to bolster the manufacture of its powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) and jointly develop a new design leveraging components from both companies. Ford has also designed a full-face shield, which when paired with N95 respirators, should provide additional protection to healthcare workers. Mahindra is leveraging the design to develop and produce face shields for use in India.
● Tata Trusts has earmarked Rs 500 crore to empower and protect affected communities from the COVID-19 outbreak. Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Trusts has announced that the organisation is committing the sum for providing personal protective equipment, respiratory systems and testing kits and setting up modular treatment facilities for patients. Additionally, the resources will be used for knowledge sharing and training of healthcare workers as well as the general public.
● Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) has entered into an agreement with AgVa Healthcare, a medical equipment manufacturer, for producing up to 10,000 ventilators per month. The automaker will leverage its suppliers for producing components and tap into its technical know-how to upgrade systems for production and quality control. It will also aid in arranging financing, to the required extent. The carmaker will provide these services free of cost to AgVa Healthcare.
Moreover, MSIL joint ventures, Bharat Seats Limited and Krishna Maruti Limited have further pledged to manufacture protective clothing and 20 lakh 3-ply masks respectively.
● The TVS Motor Company has announced a Rs 30 crore economic aid package. The money is being funded by the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), the social division of the TVS Motor Company and Sundaram-Clayton Limited. The funds will be used for providing disinfection services, distributing one million face masks and providing daily meals to police personnel and healthcare and municipal workers. The company is supplying dry rations to daily wage workers in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh as well. TVS is also evaluating the prospect of producing ventilators.
● Contributing towards the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Hyundai Motor India Foundation, the automaker’s CSR arm, has ordered advanced diagnostic testing kits for COVID-19 from South Korea. The organisation states that the kits will have a very high level of accuracy and will be capable of testing 25,000 people. The procured kits will be distributed tomorrow to hospitals after consultation with the central and state governments. Commenting on the initiative, S S Kim, MD and CEO, Hyundai Motor India, said, “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support the Indian Government with multi-layered CSR initiatives to bring back normalcy at the earliest.”
Friday, March 27
The mobility solutions provider had earlier revealed other initiatives to relieve the stress of the coronavirus pandemic. It had announced a special COVID-19 insurance cover for driver partners and their spouses. The company had also waived lease rentals for driver partners operating vehicles under its subsidiary, Ola Fleet Technologies.
Thursday, March 26
Wednesday, March 25
● In an attempt to aid authorities in battling the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, MG Motor India has pledged to donate Rs 2 crore to government hospitals and health institutions in Gurugram, Haryana, and Halol in Gujarat. While the carmaker is headquartered in the former city, it has 80,000-unit capacity manufacturing plant in the latter. Half of the promised donation is being earmarked from the company’s coffers, and the rest is being pledged by the employees. Contributions will include essentials like gloves, masks, ventilators, medicines and beds, depending on the requirements of the medical institutions.
Tuesday, March 24
Asif Khatri, vice president of Manufacturing, GM India, stated, “The safety and wellbeing of our employees is the utmost priority. These steps are necessary in the fight against the spread of Covid-19. We stand in solidarity with the Government of Maharashtra’s initiatives to stop the spread of this pandemic.”
The facility is currently used to manufacture models for exports, with GM having stopped sales in the domestic market in 2017. The plant is set to see a change in ownership later this year as a part of Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motor's foray into the Indian automotive market.
Monday, March 23
Sunday, March 22
● Mahindra Group chairman, Anand Mahindra, has revealed over Twitter that that the company is contemplating the manufacture of ventilators at its production facilities and converting its Mahindra Holidays resorts into temporary care facilities for COVID-19 patients. Other automakers across the globe are also being approached for the manufacture of life-saving medical equipment. You can read more about it here.
● Suzuki Motorcycles India Pvt Ltd has suspended production at its Kherki Dhaula, Gurgaon plant in accordance with the directives issued by the Haryana Government. The two-wheeler manufacturer has said that that production will remain suspended till further notice issued work from home advisory to its employees.
● Toyota Kirloskar Motor has temporarily halted production at its plant in Bidadi, Karnataka along with saying that it has laid out work from home directives to its employees working in the company’s regional offices. The carmaker has not revealed a proposed date of re-commencing production.
● Hyundai Motor India has announced the suspension of production at its Chennai plant with effect from March 23, 2020 till further notice. The carmaker has said that the plant will resume operation based on further notifications from the Karnataka Government.
● Honda Cars India has announced that it will be suspending production at its Greater Noida and Tapukara plants with effect from March 23, 2020. The carmaker has said that it will be looking to resume operations from April 1 subject to advice from government and health authorities and market conditions.
The carmaker has also said that it has asked its office staff to work for home with only employees engaged in essential services requiring to be physically present.
● Maruti Suzuki has announced that it is temporarily shutting operations at its production facilities in Haryana – Gurugram and Manesar – along with saying that it’s Research and Development centre in Rohtak will remain closed. The carmaker has that the shutdown is in accordance with the government policy and its extent will depend on future policy announcements.
● Mahindra and Mahindra has announced the temporary suspension of manufacturing operations at its Nagpur, Chakan and Kandivali plants till March 31, 2020. Operations at the Nagpur plant have been suspended with immediate effect, with the Chakan and Kandivali plants to suspend manufacturing operations from Monday night, March 23.
The carmaker has said that it is continuing to monitor the situation and will take appropriate action on other plants across the country. The carmaker had previously announced work-from-home measures for its offices, earlier in the week.
● Hero MotoCorp has announced that it is suspending production at all its facilities across the globe and at its Global Parts Centre in Rajasthan with immediate effect, till March 31, 2020. The company, though, has said that its other functions, including its Centre of Innovation and Technology, will continue to function on a work-from-home policy, except for employees whose physical presence is required to run essential day-to-day services.
● Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced the suspension of production and temporary closure of its plant at Ranjangaon, Maharashtra, with immediate effect, citing the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state. The manufacturer has said that the suspension will be in effect till March 31, 2020, with only employees engaged in emergency services continuing to staff the facility.
The carmaker has said that it will be undertaking a cleaning and sanitation drive, including fumigation, at its facility during the temporary closure. FCA has also iterated that the closure will result in no job losses and that all employees will continue to receive pay during the period of closure.
Saturday, 21 March
● Harley-Davidson shut its factory in the US after one of the employees tested positive for the Coronavirus. Harley-Davidson has said the factories will remain closed until March 29th, in order to help “support employee health and further bolster coronavirus containment efforts.”
● In the interest of safety for its employees, Tata Motors has announced that it is rapidly scaling down activities at its Pune facility to skeletal operations by the end of Monday, 23rd March. The carmaker will be ready for plant closure by end of Tuesday, 24th March if the situation warrants and remain in this mode till 31st March and review it in due course.
Friday, 20 March
● Bugatti has suspended production at its plant in Molsheim, France. In a statement, the hypercar manufacturer said necessary regulations implemented by European governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic make it impossible, amongst other things, to maintain the supply chain of production and spare parts. In addition, it is almost impossible to deliver vehicles completed in the Atelier to their owners due to the travel restrictions.
● Hyundai India has announced a series of measures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country. Adding that it has advised its employees to work remotely, the company has set up preventive thermal screening for its employees, and has asked dealer and vendor partners to strictly follow government advisories. Hyundai will also offer a 2-month extension to customers who are unable to avail their vehicle’s warranty / extended warranty / free service due to a health emergency or dealership shutdown in affected cities. The company will also continue to offer 24x7 Roadside Assistance, and has deployed an additional 1,000+ Doorstep Advantage bikes and emergency road service cars.
● Apollo Tyres’ top management has announced a voluntary reduction in pay due to the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry. Company Chairman and MD Onkar S Kanwar and Vice Chairman & MD Neeraj Kanwar have accepted a 25 per cent reduction in their salary. Furthermore, other senior executives have also taken a voluntary 15 per cent reduction in their salary in a show of solidarity due to the rapidly deteriorating market conditions.
● Toyota Kirloskar Motor's regional Strategic Business Units in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore to operate with temporary reduced headcount [50%]. The selection of such 50 percent staff would be done in such a way that there is minimal business impact and also to minimise the risk of staff health. The balance 50 percent of the staff will work from home.
Thursday, 19 March
● In consultation with Volkswagen Group and the KOVO union, Skoda Auto suspended production at its Czech plants in Mladá Boleslav, Kvasiny and Vrchlabí at 10pm on March 19, for an initial period of minimum two weeks. The company says, the factories are being shut down in an orderly manner in close alignment with the supply chain to ensure a smooth process. As things stand, operations are scheduled to re-commence on April 6. Meanwhile, production of Skoda models has resumed at the Chinese plants. In India and Russia, manufacturing is continuing according to plan.
● Honda has suspended production at its UK plant, where the Civic hatch is built, "in light of increasing difficulties with supply chains and considering the wellbeing" or staff. The firm says it intends to restart production on 6 April, dependent on government advice and market conditions.
● The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency has postponed all driving tests in the UK due to take place today and tomorrow. In Northern Ireland, driving tests have been suspended for three months.
● Both Ford and GM will suspend production at their North American factories until at least 30 March. The two firms say they will take the time to clean and sanitise their plants in the USA, Canada and Mexico, and both are in talks with unions about keeping workers safe when production resumes. Audi has also suspended production in its Mexico plant due to supply chain issues.
● Hyundai has suspended production at its US factory in Alabama after a worker tested positive for Covid-19. The firm is working with local officials to sanitise the site and determining when it it safe for production to resume.
Wednesday, March 18
● The motorsport calendar faces another hit in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the 2020 Isle of Man TT now cancelled. The event was scheduled to take place between May 30 and June 13, 2020, and preparations for the event were already underway. However, the outbreak and severity of the situation in the United Kingdom has led organisers to call off the event. This is the first time since 2001 that the iconic motorcycle racing event has been cancelled.
Volkswagen India chooses to launch its second SUV of 2020 – the T-Roc – digitally, sticking to the formula of social distancing. The T-Roc's online launch comes just about two weeks after the German carmaker launched its BS6-compliant Tiguan Allspace in Mumbai on March 6.
● Hero MotoCorp, India's largest two-wheeler OEM, sets up a task force to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. Employees have been told to work from home every alternate day, and non-essential travel and physical meetings have been discontinued. The company says it is well prepared with a contingency plan.
● The Le Mans 24 Hours has been moved back from its planned 13/14 June date until 19/20 September. The organisers say the delay will involve rescheduling several of rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The world's most prestigious endurance race was first held in May 1923, but has since been run in June, with two exceptions. In 1956, the event was held in July, while in 1968 civil unrest in France caused the event to be delayed until September. The race has been cancelled 10 times: in 1936 due to a labour strike, and between 1940 and 1948 due to World War Two.
● Rolls-Royce has confirmed it will suspend production at its Goodwood manufacturing plant from Monday, March 23. The suspension is currently planned for two weeks, and leads into the already scheduled two-week Easter maintenance shutdown. It added that day-to-day operations will be assured by non-production staff at the company's head office, or working remotely.
Company boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös said: “This action has not been taken lightly, but the health and well-being of our exceptional workforce is first and foremost in our minds. We are a tight-knit community at the Home of Rolls-Royce and I have no doubt that our resilience will shine through during this extraordinary time."
● Porsche has announced that it will stop production for an initial period of two weeks. The decision will affect its Zuffenhausen and Leipzig plants in Germany, with the suspension starting from Saturday, March 21. The firm cited the protection of its personnel due to coronavirus, but added that bottlenecks in its supply chain no longer enabled "orderly production". The firm also said it is anticipating a decline in demand.
● Toyota is suspending production at all of its European plants, including its two UK facilities in Burnaston, Derbyshire and Deeside, Flintshire.
● The BMW Group is also in the process of halting production at all of its European factories, along with its site in South Africa. They will all be closed by the end of the week, and is currently scheduled to last until April 19.
● Honda will suspend production at all of its North American plants for six days from 23 March, due to an "anticipated decline in market demand". It said it will continue to pay staff fully during the suspension, and will also utilise the period to enhance deep cleaning measures. The move will affect plants in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
● The Tesla factory in Fremont, California is set to be forced to close, with officials in Alameda County having reportedly determined it is a "non-essential" business. The plant was originally set to stay open despite a "stay at home" order in the county, but county spokesperson Sargeant Ray Kelly told The Mercury News: "If Tesla was a hospital, if Tesla was a laundromat, if Tesla was a mechanic shop, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But Tesla makes cars, and that’s not essential for us to get through this health crisis.”
Tuesday, March 17
● Pierer Mobility – parent company of KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas – announced the implementation of a two-week company vacation at its Mattighofen plant in Austria from March 30 to April 10. This due to an interruption of components supply due to the complete shutdown in northern Italy. Deliveries of KTM and Husqvarna in India will be affected as some components are sourced from that region, including Italy.
● Ducati has announced that it has extended the shutdown of its production lines in Borgo Panigale to March 25 because of the recent coronavirus outbreak. The original deadline was March 18 but was extended as the pandemic spread across Italy. Ducati also said that all activities relating to new product development and market support are ongoing in compliance with the rules of conduct against the spread of the virus.
● Mahindra & Mahindra announced a ‘work from home’ (WFH) policy, from March 18-31, for 7,000 desk-based staffers. However, the company's manufacturing and R&D operations will continue functioning.
● FCA India, which retails the Jeep brand of SUVs, says it "has permitted over 50% of its staff in its Mumbai and Pune offices to work from home, at least until March 31, 2020, and is taking proactive measures to ensure ‘social distancing’, which is the need of the hour."
● FCA, which operates from three locations in India – Corporate Office in Mumbai, an Engineering office in Pune and the main Engineering Centre in Chennai – says it has prioritised the option of ‘work from home’ (WFH) for its staff in Maharashtra based on precautionary advisories by the government of India and also the State Governments. The WFH alternative for the mission-critical engineering workforce in Chennai is under consideration and not in play as yet.
● Volvo Car India announced a 'work from home' strategy as a safety measure with immediate effect. As part of its overall health and safety plan to mitigate risks associated with Covid-19, the company said the "the necessary IT infrastructure is in place to facilitate business continuity, with scheduled meetings managed via Microsoft Teams/ Skype."
● Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) approaches the Supreme Court to extend the cut-off for sales of BS-IV vehicles to May 31 as retail sales have nosedived due to the impact of Coronavirus. According to FADA president Ashish Kale, "In the past week, there has been a drastic drop in sales and customer walk-ins have reduced to a trickle as caution sets in due to fear of spreading of the virus. Counter sales have fallen by 60-70% across auto dealerships. The situation has worsened in the past 3-4 days with partial lockdown situation in many towns and cities and few district magistrates have started issuing notices of closure of shops and establishments including auto dealerships to stop the spread of virus. Many of our members may face dealership closures if leftover with unsold BS-IV stocks."
● Ford will suspend production at its factories in continental Europe from Thursday 19 March. The decision, which the firm expects "will continue for a number of weeks" will affect two plants in Germany and one in Romania. The firm has already suspended production at its Valencia factory after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus. The firm's two UK engine plants are not affected. The firm added that while dealerships in some countries have temporarily closed their sales operations, its dealers are committed to "provide essential maintenance and service across the continent."
● The Volkswagen Group is shutting down most of its factories in Europe, with boss Herbert Diess saying that it's “almost impossible” to forecast the company's 2020 financial performance.
● Volkswagen India's plant in Chakan, near Pune, is not facing any major production disruption yet because it's already on a 3-week production shutdown, starting Monday, March 16. The company says this shutdown is to prepare the production lines for the new set of models based on the new MQB A0 IN platform that will drive the global major's 'India 2.0' strategy in the marketplace.
Though there could have been a potentially serious impact in production due to disruption in supplies from the virus outbreak affected automotive hubs outside of China. Volkswagen started production of BS VI cars in February as planned, though there would be a delay in the production of vehicles with automatic transmissions sourced from Japan. The delay could be a "maximum" of two to three months. "It (production shutdown timing) fits pretty well in the current environment. We are also supporting people to stay at home. So far, we have managed to work around it," said Steffen Knapp, director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India.
However, the company has had to shut its 120,000 square feet spare parts warehouse in Gurgaon, one of three in the country, after the local administration issued an advisory to shut down operations of offices and industrial units in order to contain the virus outbreak. Vehicle sales are also affected as some states have advised dealerships to suspend operations in the wake of the virus outbreak. While monitoring the constantly developing situation closely, Volkswagen, and other industry peers would also brace themselves for some challenging times. "The customers have something else in their mind if it’s getting to their health, so they may not think of purchasing vehicles," said Knapp.
● The Tesla factory in Fremont, California, US is remaining open, despite a "shelter in place" lockdown being issued for the area in which it's located. The plant, where the Model 3 is produced, has been deemed an essential business by Alameda County. According to the Los Angeles Times, Tesla boss Elon Musk has emailed the plant's 10,000 workers saying they can stay at home if they feel unwell or uncomfortable.
Monday, March 16
● Organisers of the 2020 South India Rally, which was supposed to be held on March 20-22, 2020, have confirmed that the event has now been postponed after considering the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in India. The rally – which is supposed to double as the inaugural round of the 2020 Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) and the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) – will now be held on June 19-21, 2020.
● The UK government is in talks with major automotive manufacturers, including Ford and Honda, about producing ventilators for the NHS in their UK production facilities. The idea has precedent: in China, the car industry is already helping to battle the spread of coronavirus. Chinese car maker BYD has created production lines at its Shenzen facility to produce face-masks and disinfectants. It says that it's producing 300,000 bottles of disinfectant and five million masks per day, making it the world's largest producer of the latter product.
● The PSA Group will stage phased closures of all of its factories across Europe, including the Vauxhall plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton.
● Ford has closed its factory in Valencia, Spain after three workers tested positive for Covid-19. In a statement, Ford said: “We have had three positive cases for Covid-19 on the Valencia site in a 24-hour period, two of which involved more isolated workers that did not enter the assembly operations. We are taking quick action to follow the established protocol, including the identification and self-isolation of all employees who had close contact with the affected workers. We will take all other appropriate steps to ensure that risk from this situation is minimised.”
● Ford India said it is continuing to act in real-time to keep its "people safe and help limit the spread of the virus in communities where we live and work. Therefore, starting Monday March 16, we have instructed much of our India workforce (over 10,000 people) including Ford India and Global Business Services – except those in business-critical roles that cannot be done away from Ford facilities – to work remotely until further notice."
A PTI report has it that the Ford India spokesperson added, "All necessary safety measures have been deployed at Ford locations as well as our dealerships to ensure minimum inconvenience to customers."
Sunday, March 15
● Tata Motors' PR releases an 'internal memo' written by CEO and Managing Director Guenter Butschek. It reveals that the company has in place a three-tiered response plan to reduce the risk of coronavirus to its employees.
● Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is closing the majority of its European plants until March 27, including six in Italy and those in Serbia and Poland. Ferrari will also close its Maranello factory, while Italian brake manufacturer Brembo is also shutting down.
● The World Rally Championship event in Mexico was halted early so that the competing teams would have extra time to get home, given the increase in travel restrictions. The next event, Rally Argentina, has been postponed.
Friday, March 13
● Daimler postpones Annual Shareholders’ Meeting: An email to the media states that "After weighing all aspects, especially the health of all participants and after the order of the responsible health department, Daimler AG has decided not to hold the company’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting as scheduled on April 1, 2020, but to postpone it to a later date in 2020."
Thursday, March 12
● The Australian Grand Prix was cancelled by Formula 1 bosses just hours before practice was due to begin on Friday, following McLaren's withdrawal from the race due to one of its team members testing positive for coronavirus.
The decision by Formula 1 and the FIA, motorsport's governing body, was announced on Friday morning in Australia, with fans already queuing for admission to the street circuit in Albert Park, Melbourne. It was made after discussions between F1 bosses, the FIA, Australian Grand Prix organisers and the 10 teams over whether the event should proceed.
A statement from Formula 1 and the FIA said, "This is very disappointing news for the thousands of fans due to attend the race and all ticket holders will receive a full refund and a further announcement will be communicated in due course."
● Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) has announced that in light of the current outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the fight against the pandemic, it has taken preventive measures to safeguard the health and safety of all stakeholders including customers, employees, and dealer partners. The OEM says it has been closely monitoring the evolving situation and responding appropriately in accordance with guidance issued by the government.
● Five days before the 2020 Geneva Motor Show – billed as the biggest show on the global automotive calendar – was due to open to journalists on Tuesday, March 3, the organiser International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) cancelled the event. This was after several confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Geneva and other parts of Switzerland came to light. At the time, there was a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus, in northern Italy, with cases announced in a number of other European countries.
Over 25,000 auto execs working from home in India
It is estimated that over 25,000 executives working at India Auto Inc are currently working from home to contain the spread of Covid-19 contagion.
According to Animesh Kumar, Director of Automotive Consulting at GlobalData, a leading research and consulting company, “Most of these employees are from key original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Ford, Tata Motors, Mahindra, Volkswagen, FCA, Renault, Volvo and MG Motor. While factory workers will continue to operate in plants, it will not be ‘business as usual’. OEMs are trying their best to give safe working environment to factory workers and other employees in key operational roles in order to ensure that supply chain does not get ‘further’ impacted. Automakers, including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motors India, Toyota Kirloskar Motors and Tata Motors have put in place several measures such as thermal screening, business travel restrictions, maintaining physical distance and suspension of biometric attendance systems, to prevent the exposure of their workforce."
“These steps have been warranted by the sudden spike in the confirmed Covid-19 cases globally and in India. Though the confirmed cases to the overall population ratio indicates that India has so far managed to control the outbreak better than most of the countries, there are concerns regarding undetected cases. Moreover, in India, the highest number of cases has been reported in Maharashtra, a state which is a major automotive hub.
“The automotive supply chain in India has been impacted due to the disruption in availability of auto components and the impact is being felt across all segments -- passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, two- and three-wheelers, and electric vehicles. A large portion of the components imported from China are sold in aftermarket and it would impact the aftermarket segment as well as the repairs and maintenance markets."
Inputs on overseas automakers from Autocar UK
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