SHANGHAI — The spread of the deadly coronavirus appeared to slow last week in China, and the country's mammoth auto industry began to ramp back up to production. But business is still far from normal.
In China now, travelers are required to be quarantined at home or in hotels for two weeks upon arrival. That means that factory workers who commute from long distances face restrictions on when they can come to work. Truck drivers must stop and have their temperatures taken when driving across provinces, and before businesses can resume operations, they must wait for government approval.
After the national government extended a business shutdown to Feb. 9 in an effort to keep people home and let the virus abate, most automakers waited even longer — until Feb. 17 — to restart factory output. But as of the end of last week, with various other constraints brought by the epidemic, they had only managed partial production.
Volkswagen Group, the largest carmaker in China, said on Feb. 17 that because of logistics and supply chain challenges, as well as the difficulty for its employees to return, it postponed the start of production at its joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp. by another week, to Monday, Feb. 24. The partnership operates eight of VW Group's 14 plants in China.
For similar reasons, FCA Group, which builds Jeeps at two plants in China, has yet to resume output at its plant in the central China city of Changsha, after reopening its factory in the south China city of Guangzhou.
General Motors, Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA have plants in Hubei Provence, the epicenter of the health crisis.
Health authorities said last week that the pace of new infections in that region has not declined. As a result, the Hubei government said its businesses will not be allowed to restart local production before March 11.