FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group will suspend production this week at plants in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain and is preparing to shut down the rest of its factories across Europe due to the spread of coronavirus.
"Given the present significant deterioration in the sales situation and the heightened uncertainty regarding parts supplies to our plants, production is to be suspended in the near future at factories operated by group brands," VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said on Tuesday.
"The individual brands will communicate details of operating plans as soon as possible," Diess said.
VW Group owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda brands.
Lamborghini is halting production at its plant in Italy until March 25.
The shutdowns come after VW's powerful works council concluded it was not possible for workers at its plants to maintain a safe distance from one another to prevent contagion and recommended a suspension of production.
VW Group has 124 production sites worldwide of which 72 are in Europe, with 28 in Germany alone.
VW brand's factory in Puebla, Mexico, and plants in Brazil and the United States were not affected but that would depend on how the coronavirus spreads, the company said.
Audi said it will shut its plant in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico, by Monday.
VW said on Tuesday that the uncertainty about the fallout from the pandemic meant it was impossible to give any forecasts for its performance this year.
"2020 will be a very difficult year. The corona pandemic presents us with unknown operational and financial challenges. At the same time, there are concerns about sustained economic impacts," Diess said.