Mr. Schnake, Mr. Engel, we are on the way back to a certain level of normality in China, while the country has recently been the center of the corona pandemic. What was your experience of the outbreak?
Schnake: I was in Germany for Chinese New Year holidays, shortly afterwards I returned to in China and then went directly into quarantine. So I had to lead the decision-making bodies via Skype. Everyday life consisted largely of searching for alternative solutions, obtaining special permits and handling logistical challenges. The teamwork was excellent. Even in the deepest crisis, 70 participants from different departments from Beijing to Wolfsburg and from the partners in the Chinese joint ventures came together digitally in a highly motivated manner.
Engel: I came back to China at the same time and then went directly home for two weeks quarantine. I was in conference calls and Skype calls for twelve hours a day. The topics were always the same: How are we supplied with parts? Under what conditions can we start? How do we organize disinfection of factories and workplaces and masks for employees? In the first two weeks we gathered all the answers to these questions for ourselves in Beijing, for the 33 vehicle and component plants across the country, in the direct and indirect areas.
What is the status about production in China as of today?
Engel: 32 of the 33 plants are currently running again. Overall, we already have a utilization rate that is now roughly 75% of what it would be in normal times. We are making good progress. However, there are still strict prevention requirements, such as wearing masks, keeping distance from colleagues, packaged food on the go in the canteens or temperature controls when entering the company premises. Of course, the workplaces and production halls are regularly disinfected. The market demand must first continue to recover so that the vehicles we manufacture find customers. But we recognize signs of recovery and are therefore in good spirits.
One currently reads a lot about deliveries of medical goods from China. How does Volkswagen support this?
Schnake: We procure the goods in China. In the first seven days, we adjusted the procurement process four times. We needed faster solutions. And we still had to be compliant, ensure the right quality of goods and track delivery routes. My Chinese colleagues see it as their personal responsibility to help other people around the world and they are incredibly committed. A few weeks ago, we were able to rely on the help of the international locations, which supported us and our suppliers for example with masks, when we started again in China. Now the situation is reversed. It is up to us to supply the rest of the world.