March 21, 2020 / 1:14 PM / 7 days ago

VW CEO warns factory closures may drag on for weeks

FILE PHOTO: A logo of VW is pictured at a Volkswagen dealership in Camas, near Seville, southern Spain November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

(Reuters) - Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) CEO Herbert Diess on Saturday warned that the coronavirus crisis may force the company to keep its factories shut for longer than initially planned.

“Most of our factories are closing for two weeks, in some regions for three. It is likely that these measures will last," Diess said in a Linkedin post bit.ly/33CpfPx.

The company’s brands include Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda.

“The spreading of the virus will not have come to a standstill in several weeks from now. So that we need to be ready, to live with this threat for a long time - until effective medicines or a vaccination are available,” Diess said.

Volkswagen is taking measures to secure liquidity, its supply chains, and to continue with strategic projects such as the launch of the company’s ID.3 electric car and the supply of battery cells.

Germany’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 2,705 to reach 16,662, the Department for Infectious Diseases at the Robert Koch Institute said on Saturday.

Volkswagen on Tuesday said it was suspending production at factories across Europe.

It also said that uncertainty about the impact of the virus meant it was impossible to give forecasts for this year.

Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru and Edward Taylor in Frankfurt; editing by Jason Neely

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