Toyota Kirloskar, Volvo take cautious approach to full reopening

Volvo India and Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), which have manufacturing bases in Karnataka, are choosing to go slow on a full reopening of their units although the state government has allowed factories and commercial establishments to function at 100% capacity.

Both companies said that most of their employees have taken their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and their manufacturing facilities are likely to function with a partial workforce for a few more weeks or months until all employees have received the second dose.

The Indian auto industry has performed better this year as compared with the same period of 2020, which was a washout due to the pandemic. With the gradual easing of state-imposed Covid-19 restrictions amid signs of a slowdown in virus spread, vehicle manufacturers are charging up to resume full-scale production.

“We have vaccinated all our employees with the first dose and we have now taken up vaccinating their families,” Kamal Bali, managing director of Volvo India, told ET.

Of Volvo India’s nearly 3,500-strong workforce, 2,500 are office employees, and the rest work at the production facilities that roll out trucks, buses, construction equipment and commercial vehicles.

Bali said the company is looking at adopting a hybrid model for office employees once all of them are vaccinated, while production facilities may see the entire workforce returning soon.

“We have been progressively picking up from 30% production to 50%. Some of our employees were vaccinated recently and we will wait until all workers get the second dose before we resume with full capacity,” Bali said, adding that there is data to prove that Covid-19 infection rate in manufacturing units is low.

TKM resumed operations at its Bidadi plant on June 15 after a month-long halt in production due to the annual maintenance and the pandemic-induced lockdown in the state. “We resumed operations at the plan on June 15 with prescribed workforce strength of 50%,” a TKM spokesperson said.

The Indian arm of the Japanese carmaker will now look at the pending orders. “We look at the coming months with caution, once markets open up completely, personal mobility will become even more significant,” the spokesperson said.

According to the TKM administration, 97% of the company’s 6,000-strong workforce has already taken the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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