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Restart revs up automobile firms in Hubei

2020-3-12 11:28

Employees work on a production line of Dongfeng Honda in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. [Photo by Guo Liangshuo/For China Daily]

 

Companies begin production in key manufacturing hub of Hubei

 

Carmakers and auto suppliers in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, are resuming operations gradually after a hiatus of nearly 50 days, as the novel coronavirus outbreak appears to be receding in the city hit hardest by the epidemic.

 

Dongfeng Honda, a joint venture of Dongfeng Motor Corp, commenced production in Wuhan on Wednesday, two days after it got the written approval from local authorities. Dongfeng's Chinese-branded passenger vehicle subsidiary is scheduled to resume production on Thursday.

 

Wuhan-based Dongfeng is the country's third-largest automobile group by sales, and has over 160,000 employees. It has partnerships with international companies like Honda, Nissan, PSA and Renault.

 

"Dongfeng Honda has a large sales volume, so it is one of the first within the group to resume production," said a Dongfeng staff member with knowledge of the matter.

 

Established in 2003, the joint venture has three plants in Wuhan, with a combined annual production capacity of over 600,000 vehicles, and employs over 12,000 people.

 

The Dongfeng employee told China Daily that Dongfeng Honda has not resumed full-scale operation because people in Wuhan need to get a health code from local authorities to travel within the city.

 

Other joint ventures are expected to follow suit soon. A representative at Wuhan-based Dongfeng Renault said the company is scheduled to resume operations on Monday. Another Sino-French joint venture, Dongfeng Peugoet Citroen, said it is actively engaged in preparations for production, although it has not decided on the date.

 

Hubei province, especially Wuhan, is one of the most important automotive manufacturing regions in China.

 

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, carmakers in the province produced 2.24 million vehicles in 2019, accounting for 8.8 percent of the country's total.

 

Besides Dongfeng and its joint ventures, US carmaker General Motors as well as auto suppliers including Valeo, Webasto and Bosch have manufacturing facilities in the province.

 

GM's joint venture SAIC-GM said its Wuhan plant has got the necessary approvals from the local authorities to resume production.

 

A representative at French auto parts supplier Valeo said its two plants in Wuhan have received the approval as well, and will restart production within this week. Valeo also has two plants in Jingzhou, also in Hubei province, and they have been in production for a while.

 

German auto parts producer Webasto said it has filed applications to restart production at its two Hubei plants-one in Wuhan and another in Xiangyang, and is expected to receive official replies later this week.

 

Carmakers and auto suppliers in regions outside of Hubei province have been in production for a while, with most of their plants having opened in February.

 

The novel coronavirus outbreak has affected China's automotive industry that had witnessed falling sales for two years in 2018 and 2019.

 

Statistics from the China Passenger Car Association show that carmakers in the country produced 215,000 vehicles in February, down 80.6 percent from the same month last year. Passenger vehicle sales during the month slumped 78.5 percent year-on-year to 252,000 units. During the first two months, vehicle sales totaled 1.97 million units, down 41 percent from the same period a year ago.

 

"Obviously, the coronavirus outbreak had a much larger effect on the industry than the Spring Festival holiday," said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of association.

 

He expected sales will slowly rebound in March and April before reaching the normal level in May, if the epidemic can be effectively curbed by April.

 

The CPCA estimated that passenger vehicle sales will fall by 8 percent this year on a yearly basis. It had expected the sales in 2020 to grow 1 percent year-on-year before the coronavirus outbreak.

 

International carmakers, however, are confident in the long-term potential of the Chinese market.

 

GM China President Matt Tsien said the outbreak has caused some delay in the carmaker's projects in China, but he added that it will not affect the company's confidence and investment in the country, its largest market globally.

 

工人们在湖北省会武汉的东风本田生产线上工作。[郭良硕/中国日报]


公司在湖北省重点制造业中心开始生产


湖北省省会武汉的汽车制造商和汽车供应商在中断近50天后正逐渐恢复运营。在疫情最严重的武汉,新型冠状病毒疫情似乎正在消退。


东风本田是东风汽车(Dongfeng Motor Corp .)的合资企业,周三在武汉开始生产。两天前,该公司获得了当地政府的书面批准。东风的中国品牌乘用车子公司定于周四恢复生产。


总部位于武汉的东风是中国销量第三大的汽车集团,拥有超过16万名员工。它与本田(Honda)、日产(Nissan)、标致雪铁龙(PSA)和雷诺(Renault)等国际公司建立了合作关系。


一位知情的东风员工表示:“东风本田的销量很大,因此它是集团内首批恢复生产的公司之一。”


合资公司成立于2003年,在武汉有三家工厂,年生产能力超过60万辆,员工超过12000人。


这名东风员工对《中国日报》表示,东风本田尚未全面恢复运营,因为武汉市民需要从当地政府获得健康代码才能在市内出行。


预计其它合资企业也将很快效仿。总部位于武汉的东风雷诺(Dongfeng Renault)的一位代表说,公司计划周一恢复运营。另一家中法合资企业标致雪铁龙(Dongfeng peugeot Citroen)表示,该公司正积极参与生产准备工作,不过尚未确定具体日期。


湖北省,特别是武汉,是中国最重要的汽车制造基地之一。


根据国家统计局的数据,该省汽车制造商在2019年生产了224万辆汽车,占全国总量的8.8%。


除了东风及其合资企业外,美国汽车制造商通用汽车(General Motors)以及法雷奥(Valeo)、威巴斯托(Webasto)和博世(Bosch)等汽车供应商也在该省设有生产设施。


通用汽车的合资企业上海通用汽车说,其武汉工厂已获得当地政府的必要批准,可以恢复生产。


法国汽车零部件供应商法雷奥(Valeo)的一位代表说,该公司在武汉的两家工厂也已获得批准,将在本周内恢复生产。法雷奥在同样位于湖北省的荆州也有两家工厂,它们已经投产有一段时间了。


德国汽车零部件生产商Webasto说,它已经向湖北两家工厂提交了恢复生产的申请,预计本周晚些时候将收到正式答复。这两家工厂分别位于武汉和襄阳。


湖北省以外地区的汽车制造商和汽车供应商已经投产有一段时间了,它们的多数工厂已于2月份投产。


新型冠状病毒的爆发已经影响到中国的汽车行业,在2018年和2019年,中国的汽车销量连续两年下降。


中国乘用车协会的统计数据显示,中国汽车制造商2月份生产了21.5万辆汽车,比去年同期下降了80.6%。当月乘用车销量同比下降78.5%,至25.2万辆。今年前两个月,中国汽车销量总计197万辆,同比下降41%。


协会秘书长崔东舒说:“很明显,冠状病毒的爆发对该行业的影响要比春节假期大得多。”


他预计,如果到4月份疫情能够得到有效控制,3月和4月的销售将缓慢反弹,5月份才会恢复到正常水平。


CPCA估计,今年乘用车销量将同比下降8%。在冠状病毒爆发之前,该公司曾预计2020年的销售额将同比增长1%。


然而,国际汽车制造商对中国市场的长期潜力充满信心。


通用汽车中国总裁钱存训(Matt Tsien)表示,疫情已导致通用汽车在华项目出现一些延误,但他补充称,疫情不会影响通用汽车在中国的信心和投资。中国是通用汽车全球最大的市场。

 

原作者: Li Fusheng 来自: china daily