Exclusive Interview - How The Subaru Plant Is Operating Now After The Long Shutdown
The Subaru plant where the Japanese automaker makes the 2020 Outback, Ascent, Impreza, and Legacy was shut down for eight weeks due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Torque News reached out to Subaru to find out how things at the plant are operating since the restart on May 18.
In an exclusive Torque News interview, Craig Koven, Communications and External Relations Manager, Subaru Indiana Automotive (SIA), gives customers insight into how things are going for the Japanese automaker and its employees in Indiana.
Hi Craig, thank you for being with us today. How is the plant doing following the long shut down?
Craig Koven, “Overall, the plant and our associates are doing really well. I don’t think we could have expected a better scenario than what we’ve experienced since resuming operations.”
TN. What new rules have you implemented now since May 18 when most of your production associates returned and full operations resumed? How are the employees adjusting to the new safety rules?
“Yes, our associates have quickly adjusted to an extensive number of changes intended to reduce the risk of potentially spreading COVID-19 inside the plant. Our primary focus has been on (1) everyone wearing a mask inside the plant at all times; (2) keeping hands clean/sanitized; (3) maintaining social distancing, whenever possible; and (4) self-monitoring/self-reporting any potential symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19.”
TN. Is the plant back up to full production?
“Yes, we are operating at full production.”
TN. What are your biggest challenges since restarting the plant after being closed for so long?
“I think our biggest challenge has been educating associates about why we decided to require masks inside the plant at all times. Just as you see in the news, it’s as much about protecting each other as colleagues, as it’s about protecting ourselves individually. Also, making sure that masks are being worn properly has been somewhat of a related challenge.”
TN. I see there have been new executive changes at SIA. Will this bring any new policies/procedures? How will this affect the plant?
“The Japanese executives at our plant typically change every couple of years or so. They usually come from Subaru Corporation in Japan for an assignment and then return. This is one of those occasions. The change is not expected to result in any immediate changes.”
TN. Have you see any quality issues with any of the vehicles since reopening?
“No. To ensure our associates had time to re-acclimate to their jobs and responsibilities while also adjusting to the new safety rules, we incorporated a two-week ramp-up to full production. This period included additional quality checks. However, our associates demonstrated incredible resolve and were back to usual form in very little time.”
TN. Your suppliers were also shut down for eight weeks. Are they having any issues?
“I am not aware of any supplier issues since we resumed production.”
TN. We know it’s a busy time for you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with Torque News.
The 2020 Subaru Outback wagon received a complete redesign and is made alongside the new Legacy sedan. The all-new 2020 Subaru Ascent 3-Row family hauler is also manufactured at SIA and is exclusively made for North American customers. Look for a future edition of Torque News for more information on Subaru Indiana Automotive.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Subaru, unofficial SIA Facebook page, Competition Subaru