With masks and distancing, Volkswagen restarts production

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Max Bruehmann (l) and Heiko Gruner employees of German car producer Volkswagen Sachsen, work with face masks in the assembly of the ID.3 in the vehicle plant in Zwickau, Germany, Thursday, April 23, 2020. At carmaker Volkswagen, vehicle production restarts after a corona shutdown of more than five weeks. Production of the all-electric ID.3 will initially be restarted with reduced capacity and cycle time. Zwickau is the first VW vehicle plant in Germany to resume operations. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP)

ZWICKAU, Germany (AP) — German automaker Volkswagen restarted production on Thursday at its plant in Zwickau, where its crucial mass-market electric vehicle is being made ahead of its launch later this year.

The company said the plan was “health before production numbers” as the assembly line started up after a five-week closure under new health rules agreed with worker representatives that include wearing face protection where a 1.5 meter (six-foot) distance can’t always be observed. Other measures include regular cleanings. Distancing is required in washrooms, changing rooms and lunchrooms.

At restart the plan was to make 50 cars per day, about a third of previous output.

Volkswagen worker Heiko Gruner told the dpa news agency he was grateful to be back. “For the past weeks I missed the purpose and the usual structure of the day,” said the 49-year-old.

The plant makes the ID.3 electric compact, which is key to Volkswagen’s plan to make battery only cars a mass-market product. Currently, electrics remain a niche product with sales in single digits and many of the offerings are in the luxury category. Volkswagen aims to sell the car for prices starting below 30,000 euros ($32,400).

Manufacturing plants in several European countries have resumed work in recent days as some governments look to ease some of the lockdown measures that have dealt a blow to the economy.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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