Motor giants steer through meltdown

Don Robertson

Don Robertson

While the world economic meltdown has largely left South African banks untouched, it has severely hit the motor manufacturing industry.

Volkswagen announced last week that because a large portion of its production is destined for the export market and because of an expected decline in sales overseas, the company will close all production in the last week of February - as well as during the weeks before and after the Easter weekend.

BMW has no plans to lay off workers and hopes to maintain its production levels of the new 3-series at around 50000 units.

Toyota expects exports to decline by 25percent to 30percent from last year's 127000, but is not yet considering staff cuts.

Ford has been operating on a four-day week since the end of January and this could continue indefinitely.

General Motors pre-empted cutbacks by other manufacturers by offering separation packages to 1000 employees towards the end of last year.

And Mercedes-Benz says it is aiming at "an earlier year-end production shutdown and a company-wide cost efficiency programme".