Across America, Volkswagen has rolled out several new efforts to help customers and communities fight the coronavirus.
Today, Volkswagen of America and fabrics supplier Faurecia announced a joint effort to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items, with the first batch shipped to medical workers at New York City’s Javits Center and other area hospitals. Working with Volkswagen strategy and logistics, Faurecia was able to quickly convert one of its factories to begin producing tens of thousands of FDA-approved surgical masks and gowns.
Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen Credit also today detailed the Community-Driven Promise program, designed to help eligible customers in the United States affected by the crisis who need financial relief.
With both steps, Volkswagen aims to leverage its expertise in finance, engineering and logistics to make a meaningful contribution to those in need.
“We have a commitment to help our customers, our dealers, our employees and our communities in a time of crisis,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Volkswagen is proud to have partners like Faurecia willing to step outside their usual scope and drive something bigger.”
The work began with an internal Volkswagen task force, created to identify ways of meaningfully impacting the fight against COVID-19. After checking with several suppliers, Faurecia shared its willingness and ability to modify the company’s production lines. Through quick work with Volkswagen experts, plus an initial order of 70,000 masks and 5,000 gowns, Faurecia was able to pivot its processes and begin production at one of its facilities in Mexico.
Faurecia has since been able to significantly ramp up production capacities and is now able to make an estimated 250,000 masks and 50,000 gowns per week. Volkswagen donated the first run of Faurecia-produced surgical masks and gowns to New York State’s COVID-19 response efforts. The shipment of 75,000 units arrived today, to be distributed at area hospitals including the temporary hospital at New York City’s Javits Center.
On the U.S. customer side, Volkswagen and Volkswagen Credit (VCI) will now offer several ways for existing and new owners to get financial help. Existing Volkswagen Credit customers in good standing can seek:
- Up to 90-day payment deferrals without fees (VCI will not charge any fees but finance charges will still accrue for non-lease accounts)
- Lease extensions up to six months
- Waiving past maturity fees in certain circumstances
Qualified new buyers who use Volkswagen Credit also have the option of delaying their first payment for up to 180 days, combined with zero-percent APR financing for up to 72 months for most new vehicles. The program is set to run through April 30.2
Volkswagen of America is also working with its more than 600 U.S. dealers affected by the outbreak, helping with several customer efforts that encourage continued social distancing and limited interaction. That includes support for a pick-up and delivery program that promotes social distancing, yet still allows for vehicles to be brought into a participating dealership for service or repairs. Volkswagen has also increased digital operations support to limit physical interaction at dealerships and has implemented digital signatures for transactions such as warranty claims.
Meanwhile, while the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant has been temporarily closed to help protect its workers, the education labs in the area are using their 3D printers to make face mask holders for medical workers in the region. That effort mirrors a similar program Volkswagen Group launched today in Europe with Airbus and a consortium of other firms to 3D print thousands of face masks for medical workers in Spain.
Beyond that, Volkswagen Group has made several key efforts across Europe, from exploring ventilator production with its Seat brand to converting part of the Lamborghini factory in Italy for medical mask production and giving key employees paid leave to work with health services.
Look for more steps from Volkswagen in the days and weeks ahead.
“We don’t plan on stopping our response to this crisis here,” said Keogh.