Volkswagen temporarily closing European plants

Volkswagen temporarily closing European plants
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Volkswagen is reportedly closing its European plants temporarily as the coronavirus outbreak spreads. 

Plants in Europe are set to shut down for at least two weeks, with the last shifts running this Friday in most locations, according to The Associated Press, which cited CEO Herbert Diess’s announcement at the company’s annual press conference on Tuesday. 

“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,” Diess said, according to Reuters

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He said the pandemic presents “unknown operation and financial challenges,” and said 2020 will be a “very difficult year.”

Plants have already shut down in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, the AP reports. 

As the company prepares to shut down its European plants, it's resumed some manufacturing in China, with the exception of the VW plants in Changsha and Urumqi, Reuters noted.

The virus is believed to have originated in China, but the number of cases has slowed there as the virus has spread globally. 

More than 185,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

Volkswagen also reportedly said its full-year operating profits rose 22 percent to 16.9 billion euros, or $18.5 billion.