Workers assemble a Mercedes-Benz AG automobile on the assembly line at the new Daimler AG automobile plant outside Moscow, Russia. File photo: BLOOMBERG/ILYA ARKHIPOV
Workers assemble a Mercedes-Benz AG automobile on the assembly line at the new Daimler AG automobile plant outside Moscow, Russia. File photo: BLOOMBERG/ILYA ARKHIPOV

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz has also announced plans to cut back operations in SA in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The company says the East London vehicle assembly plant of Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA) will gradually reduce manufacturing operations as well as work in some administrative departments.

Manufacturing is expected to stop completely on April 9 for an initial five weeks.

As with BMW and Ford Southern Africa, the company says the decision to suspend production is driven by a mix of health and business demands. An MBSA spokesperson said: “The decision will help the company prepare for a period of temporary lower demand and to protect the company’s financial strength.”

East London builds a variety of C-Class car models, of which the overwhelming majority are exported. The global crash in new-car demand because of Covid-19 made a production suspension inevitable after BMW and Ford, both of which are also export-dependent, had made the same decision.

Besides cars, East London also assembles trucks and buses.

furlongerd@businesslive.co.za