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Tesla And Volkswagen To Reopen Factories In China After Weeks Stopped By Pandemic

Tesla and Volkswagen are ready to continue manufacturing electric cars on their Chinese production lines after the mandatory break due to the latest COVID-19 confinements in Shanghai.

Although Europe is experiencing better times – as related to the pandemic situation -, China is suffering from a strong wave of COVID-19 infections. The pandemic rebounded in such a way there that the industry was almost completely paralyzed; but apparently in just a few days light will be seen at the end of the tunnel. This situation meant the closure of factories for days and even weeks, but fortunately the situation has already improved in a remarkable way so far, thanks to which Volkswagen and Tesla factories will now return to a relatively normal production very shortly.

A few weeks ago there were many reports on the temporary closure of the Tesla Giga-Shanghai plant: what was expected to be just two or three days ended up being weeks of a long stop in production. The situation has become as complicated as the one experienced in the first wave of 2020, where the world came to a complete standstill due to the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tesla, of course, has not been the only one affected in this particular ordeal.

Giga Shanghai, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Volkswagen has also been forced to cut production and close its factories in China; the long confinement of the population has meant huge losses for many EV brands. Faced with the impossibility of normal operation, thousands of vehicles have been left half-way in the manufacturing process, accumulating a bottleneck that will take months to reduce; and that only if the mandatory, intermittent closures by the Chinese authorities - that propose the most severe containment strategy in the world - do not occur again.

Despite the fact that the situation is actually improving every day, Beijing authorities presented last week a white list with 666 companies and factories considered a priority or essential, that will receive authorization to open their doors and be able to operate again; although under very strict security measures and sanitary controls. Companies like Tesla and Volkswagen were included on that privileged list, so they will resume activity shortly.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Each EV brand faces the reopening in a different way: while some are betting on routine checks, others like Tesla require their workers to actually live (yes: work, eat, sleep) at the facilities in order to create a sort of controlled bubble. Each worker will be provided with a sleeping bag and a mattress so that they can sleep in the factory in a specially prepared ad-hoc place; a strategy that, to be honest, would be absolutely unthinkable in other parts of the world, like Europe or the US, where the rights of the workers are somehow more closely guarded.

The Chinese government will tightly monitor the measures of each manufacturer and facility. At the slightest alert of contagion or infection, the plant will run the risk of being closed at once; something that nobody wants, considering that they have already been closed for the last few weeks. "We hope that most of our citizens will continue to cooperate as usual and achieve the goal of zero-COVID at the community level as soon as possible to allow production and normal life to resume," said Wu Qianyu, a Shanghai health official.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.