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World’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp halts production due to coronavirus outbreak

NEW DELHI: The world’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp has decided to halt operations at all its global manufacturing facilities – including in India, Colombia and Bangladesh – and the Global Parts Centre (GPC) at Neemrana with immediate effect until March 31, 2020 as a measure to control the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Automaker Fiat has also suspended manufacturing operations in the country till the end of this month to check the spread of the contagious disease.

According to the company’s website, Hero MotoCorp has seven manufacturing facilities, including five in India and one each in Colombia and Bangladesh that jointly has a production capacity of 9 million vehicles. The company recently announced commencing production in its eight factory at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh.

Hero in a statement said that company’s top boss Pawan Munjal, through two Digital Town Hall meetings held in quick succession last week, has conveyed the organisation’s commitment to stand by the employees “despite the severe disruptions caused by the ongoing situation”.

The announcement by Hero MotoCorp two days after Tata Motors (TML), India’s largest auto company, said it is preparing for one-week complete shutdown of its Pune plant.

“We have decided to rapidly scale down activities at Pune site to get to skeletal operations by end Monday, 23 March and be ready for plant closure by end Tuesday March 24th, if the situation warrants. We shall remain in this mode till March 31 and will review it in due course,” Guenter Butschek, managing director and chief executive, Tata Motors said in a circular.

Similarly, automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) together with Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited (FIAPL), FCA’s joint venture manufacturing facility in Ranjangaon, said that it will suspend manufacturing till March 31, 2020 to protect the health and safety of employees.

Hero added that its employees at all the other functions and locations including the Centre of Innovation and Technology (CIT) in Jaipur in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan would continue to work from home, “except for those whose physical presence is necessary to run the day-to-day essential services.”

“Hero MotoCorp has been proactively monitoring the situation since the early stages of the outbreak of COVID-19, and had rolled-out a slew of measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its employees and also, thereby to help contain the spread of the Coronavirus,” the company said.

In Europe and United States, several automotive companies such as Fiat, Renault, Honda and Volkswagen have already suspended production at plants as there is been no containment in the Covid-19 outbreak. The coronavirus has infected more than 303,180 and killed at least 12,944 worldwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

FIAPL said it had already implemented increased sanitary processes coupled with improvements to protect employee safety, including thermal screening and extra buses for the work commute ensuring minimal social distancing.

In India , positive cases had topped 300 figure including five casualties. With the central government observing Junta Curfew on Sunday, state government of Rajasthan has announced a complete lockdown of the statement.

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