Bentley's Crewe factory will reopen May 11.
British luxury car manufacturer Bentley will be among the first carmakers to restart production in the UK on May 11, some seven weeks since its Crewe, England plant first went offline over concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Yet even with that "early" restart, it could be summer by the time the luxury marque finally reaches its full, pre-shutdown production pace.
In fact, Bentley told Reuters that it expects production output to be halved at the Crewe plant, which employs a workforce of about 4,000, over at least the first few weeks, meaning there will be far fewer Bentley Bentayga SUVs and Continental GTs to go around.
The steep drop in production is expected to result from Bentley's moves to lessen the risk of virus transmission at the plant. Starting with its May 11 reopening, Bentley's Crewe plant will see workers kept at least two meters - about six-and-a-half feet - apart, necessitating extra distance between cars as they travel through the production line.
And there are another 250 or so additional measures the plant will take to keep workers safe, like regularly checking workers' body temperatures to monitor for fever and asking workers to use different entrances to mitigate the risk of disease transmission during shift changes. No-touch barriers and devices are also going up, and the plant will install plastic separation screens within office areas.
To some observers, Bentley's anticipated production slowdown might almost seem like a good thing; the Covid-19 pandemic has hampered global economic activity, so it would make sense if demand for Bentleys were significantly lower than before the oubreak.
But Reuters reports that demand in one of Bentley's biggest markets, China, has returned full-force since the start of its brush with the virus.
"In the second week of April we took more orders than the month of January or February," says Bentley's CEO, Adrian Hallmark. "The question is will that continue, will there be a second wave but more importantly, will the European and US markets recover as fast as the China market has?"