Recently, the U.S. Government effectively cut off travel from Europe, with top health officials citing that the epicenter of the novel human coronavirus had shifted from places like China and South Korea in Asia, to Europe, with countries like Italy and Spain being among the hardest hit. Since we reported on an individual who worked in BMW’s Munich research and development center (FIZ) testing positive for the new virus last week, infections in Germany have surged from just over 700 to nearly 6,000 at the time of this writing, with 11 reported deaths and 46 recoveries.
The automotive industry is a key pillar to the German economy, which happens to be the largest in Europe. The BMW Group may not have nearly as many employees as Volkswagen or even Daimler, but the automaker remains vulnerable to the same risks, and this week an employee at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing tested positive for coronavirus. The news comes to us via Idowa, a German news website which reported that the employee was suffering from mild symptoms and under medical supervision. The work area of the infected individual was promptly sanitized, while all who had contact have been placed in what is being referred to as domestic quarantine.
BMW Group plant Dingolfing has a staff of over 18,000 employees, and daily output capacity of up to 1,600 BMW vehicles a day. The facility currently produces the bulk of BMW’s primarily rear-drive vehicles including the 5 Series, and 7 Series, while it also builds cars like the 6 Series GT, 4 Series GC, and select variants of the 8 Series.
Days after the report of the case in Dingolfing, BMW Group Plant Leipzig reported its first positive test. Details relating to the condition of the employee are not known, but once again, all who had contact with the person were sent home to quarantine themselves. A plant spokesman confirmed to German automotive news outlet Autobild that, “This only affected a small number of employees.”
According to BMWBlog, BMW Group Plant Leipzig employs roughly 5,400 people and produces more than 960 vehicles per day. BMW models manufactured at the facility are more compact than those from Dingolfing, and include cars such as the 1 Series, 2 Series including the regular coupe and new Gran Coupé, the i3, and the M2 Competition. Production of the i8 and i8 Roadster also occurs in Leipzig, but with the end quickly approaching next month.
As of this reporting, BMW is maintaining that production schedules and plans have not been affected but the virus as a whole. However, as it continues to spread, supply chain disruption is expected, primarily from vendors located within China where factories are still struggling to reopen.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]