FRANKFURT -- Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand expects production in Germany will slowly be able to resume at some key manufacturing functions later this month.
Powertrain plants will reopen first to build up a supply of key parts for vehicle assembly plants, Daimler said in a statement on Wednesday.
The automaker's engine plants and its Kamenz factory that builds EV batteries will start to ramp up production on April 20. Heavy truck and bus production is also scheduled to resume on that date.
This will be followed by production restarts at Mercedes' car factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen along with the assembly sites for Mercedes vans, the automaker said.
"During the staggered ramp-up, these plants will initially be operating in a one-shift operation," Daimler said.
A Mercedes spokeswoman said Sindelfingen, where the E-Class and S-Class sedans are built, and Bremen, home to the C Class, GLC and EQC electric crossover, might need until April 27 before resuming output depending on a still very fluid situation with regard to the pandemic countermeasures.
Daimler said it will extend short-time working for most of its production and administrative employees in Germany until April 30.
China, U.S. demand
Daimler expects to post a positive margin on Mercedes passenger cars and vans in the first quarter, thanks to rebounding sales in China and relatively stable sales in the U.S.
Sales of Mercedes passenger cars in March in the U.S. were helped by strong demand for SUVs, said Daimler's chief financial officer, Harald Wilhelm.
In the first quarter, Mercedes delivered 67,746 passenger vehicles in the U.S., down 4.8 percent from a year ago.
Sales in China had rebounded, Wilhelm said.
"We see early signs of a recovery in China. Group sales returned to 60,000 units, almost at prior year levels in March," Wilhelm said, adding that production had returned to a two-shift system at Daimler's plant in Beijing.
Mercedes sales and marketing chief, Britta Seeger, said dealerships in China and South Korea are fully open. "We see a significant increase in demand there. That gives us confidence," Seeger said in news release.
Daimler's first-quarter global retail sales fell 15 percent for its core Mercedes brand amid sharp declines in Europe and China.
Sales of Smart microcars fell 78 percent as the brand transitions to an EV-only business model.
Reuters contributed to this report