Production halted and workers on short-time – Car manufacturers hit by lockdown

Major car companies with a local manufacturing presence have been hit hard by the national lockdown.

Some have temporarily closed their production plants and have a skeleton crew working, while others have employees on short-time.

MyBroadband spoke to major car companies about how they are dealing with the effects of the coronavirus lockdown in South Africa.


Nissan told MyBroadband that some employees are on leave, while most others are working from home.

“Nissan Group of Africa is observing the lockdown regime as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” the company said.

“The company is first and foremost committed to the safety of our employees and business partners.”

“At this time some employees are working from home, while others are on annual leave, with a select few carrying out essential services on our various sites under very strict safety measures,” the company added.

Executives and management remain on duty to conduct daily business, while assessing the impact of the lockdown on the business and planning the future response.

The company added that it has closed its local manufacturing plant.

“Our plant in Rosslyn, north-west of Pretoria is closed, however, some of our engineers are manufacturing face shields and a media statement will be released in due course in terms of our Social Responsibility projects at this time,” Nissan said.

Nissan NP200


Isuzu Motors South Africa executive Denise van Huyssteen confirmed the lockdown is having an impact on the company’s business.

“While the closure of our operations will have a direct economic impact on our business, the businesses of our suppliers and dealers, and also upon our employees, we believe that these lockdown measures have been necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19,” van Huyssteen said.

“During the lockdown period, we continue to offer support to our customers who are classified as providing essential services to South Africa.”

“We are also continuously engaging with our internal and external stakeholders to develop and implement plans to mitigate the impact of the virus and ongoing developments on our business,” van Huyssteen said.

Isuzu has implemented a short-time employment policy for the rest of the year to account for the economic impact of the lockdown.

“In anticipation of the impact which COVID-19 will have on our economy and the vehicle industry in particular, we have instituted short-time for the balance of the lockdown period, including the introduction of at least one down day per week across the company, until the end of the year,” van Huyssteen said.

“We have opted to go this route because we are doing everything possible to ensure that we can to preserve the current levels of employment.”

“This means that all employees will be required to make sacrifices, whether they are hourly workers or executives, which will ultimately serve the greater good of the company and our people as a whole.”



BMW told MyBroadband the local car market has declined due to the coronavirus, forcing manufacturers to adapt.

“With ongoing weakness in the global car market caused by the spread of COVID-19 and the necessary strategies to address it, the BMW Group is responding by adjusting production planning,” the company said.

“Having reassessed the current situation, we have decided to extend the production suspension at our plants initially by another two weeks until 30 April 2020.”

The company added that it was communicating with employees and stakeholders as it responds to the situation caused by the pandemic and national lockdown.

“With the other South African OEMs, we continue in active engagement with our labour partners and other relevant stakeholders as the situation unfolds,” BMW said.

“We are, as a company and as a community, operating in unprecedented circumstances.”

“Our first concern is for the health and welfare of our associates, as well as the continued success of our operations after the crisis,” the company added.


VW, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota were asked for comment, with VW and Toyota declining to provide feedback. Mercedes-Benz did not respond to questions.

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Production halted and workers on short-time – Car manufacturers hit by lockdown