As the government has relaxed lockdown restrictions and authorities have started granting permissions to companies, the Indian automobile industry — which clocked zero sales (barring tractor sales) in April and one of the largest employment generator in the country — is now gearing up to restart operations, albeit with limited capacity. While Hero MotoCorp — the country’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer — announced it resumed operations across three of its manufacturing plants beginning Monday, several leading manufacturers are now doing their plant preparations and getting ready to start production over the next 8 to 10 days.
While a senior executive at Hyundai Motors said they will start their plant from May 6, Toyota Kirloskar Motors said they will begin plant preparations including training of staff beginning Tuesday.
The largest passenger vehicle manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, has begun the process of seeking permissions from authorities as it plans to start limited production over the next few days.
Earlier, Hero MotoCorp said it started operations at its three plants in Gurgaon, Dharuhera (Haryana) and Haridwar (Uttarakhand). The company said its Global Parts Center at Neemrana in Rajasthan has resumed operations.
“We are now ready to hit the ground sprinting as we commence the reopening of our facilities. The wellbeing of the citizens continues to be our focus and the running of our economic engines is crucial to ensure their health and prosperity,” said Pawan Munjal, chairman, Hero MotoCorp. He added he was optimistic “that business and the economy will begin the trajectory of its gradual recovery from here.”
Hero MotoCorp said the company has obtained necessary permissions to reopen its other plants and their operations will commence once supply chain partners get requisite permits to restart. Besides Haryana and Uttarakhand, the company has plants at Neemrana (Rajasthan), Halol (Gujarat) and Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh).
A source said while showrooms in some areas have re-opened with relaxation in lock-down and authorities have started granting permissions, all manufacturers will start their production over the next 10 days, “though initially with only one shift or roughly 25-30 per cent of their capacity,” said an executive with a leading manufacturer.
Hyundai Motors said it “plans to restart preparatory operations in the Irungattukkottai-based factory on the 6th of May 2020 while adhering to guidelines laid out by the government authorities … HMIL confirms complete adherence to all the safety guidelines set out by the central, state governments, and local authorities.”
Toyota Kirloskar Motors is seeking special permission for employee movement as it prepares to restart operations. In a statement issued on Monday, the company said that “TKM has decided to start preparations at the plant beginning tomorrow so as to be able to support resumption of production.”
The TKM spokesperson further said: “TKM intends to restart operations at the earliest. With inputs from various stake holders, including the government agencies, we have released a detailed “Restart Manual” in this regard. The challenge that lies ahead of us is that for the sector to start production, it is necessary our entire value chain starts operating. Our value chain consists not only of our suppliers but our dealers as well who are based in different parts of the country including cities that are still under severe lockdown.”
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