Maruti, Hyundai, Others Yet To Restart Operations Despite Partial Relief On Lockdown
Spare parts sit before assembly on the Gazelle Next van production line at the GAZ Group plant in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Maruti, Hyundai, Others Yet To Restart Operations Despite Partial Relief On Lockdown

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Major carmakers in India are yet to restart production at their factories because auto components are unavailable due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

It has been nearly a month since automakers suspended operations after India barred all but essential goods and services to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The factories of all major auto component makers and dealerships too continue to remain closed.

To be sure, the government has granted partial relief from the lockdown to kick-start economic activity in the country.

Under the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, private industries and industrial establishments operating in rural areas—outside the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities—have been allowed to operate from April 20.

Manufacturing, industrial units in special economic zones, export-oriented units, industrial estates, industrial townships can also function.

Here’s a look at what major carmakers are saying on resumption of operations:

Maruti Suzuki

The country's largest carmaker said it is looking closely at re-starting operations at its two plants in Haryana.

"The availability of components is one of the major requirements for restarting the factories, and the company management is looking into it. I guess it will take a few days to see how and when can we start operations," Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava told Press Trust of India.

The company's Manesar plant falls out of municipal limits while the Gurugram plant is inside the city. The factories have a total installed capacity of 15.5 lakh units per annum. Operations are suspended since March 22.

Honda Cars India

While the carmaker’s Tapukara plant near Alwar, Rajasthan, falls in the “green zone", a decision on restarting production will be taken later, Senior Vice President Rajesh Goel told Press Trust of India.

"Currently, the teams are involved in preparatory activities required before resumption of operations,” Goel, who is also director-marketing and sales at Honda Cars India Pvt. Ltd., said. The company is reworking all processes to comply with social distancing norms and protocols on heath screenings, transporation and workplace activities.

The plants have been shut for a long time and hence require utility and infrastructure-related stocktaking as well, Goel said. "Start of production would also depend on our supply chain and dealers which are non-operational in most of the cases currently.”

Toyota Kirloskar

The maker of the Fortuner SUV will follow lockdown orders until further notice from the state and central governments.

"For the auto sector to start production, it is necessary that the supply chain starts operating—which means not only the suppliers but also the dealers," a spokesperson for Toyota Kirloskar Motor India Pvt. Ltd. said.

Currently, because of the lockdown, most of the auto dealers and suppliers have suspended their operations, the spokesperson said. "As a responsible corporate, we wish to continue working in concurrence with state and central directives.”

Hyundai Motor India

The Indian arm of the South Korean automaker is closely monitoring and evaluating the evolving situation towards restarting plant operations.

"We will respect and adhere to the guidelines set by the state government with respect to the current market environment," a spokesperson for Hyundai Motor India Pvt. Ltd. told Press Trust of India.

Industry observers pointed out that it makes little sense for automobile companies to resume production when showrooms are closed due to the ongoing lockdown.

On Monday, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India had stated that the auto components industry is in preparatory mode for resuming operations, depending upon whether their factories are in permissible areas or not, and if their customers are resuming buying or not.

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