Volkswagen to close Europe plants for two weeks

Volkswagen says there is uncertainty about demand for cars and supplies of parts amid the virus outbreak

Volkswagen said Tuesday it would close most of its European plants for two weeks due to uncertainty about demand for cars and supplies of parts amid the virus outbreak.

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CEO Herbert Diess made the announcement at the start of the company's annual news conference. The dpa news agency, citing employee representatives, said that the last shifts would run this Friday in most locations.

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The company had said it expects a 4 percent increase in sales this year but Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter said Tuesday that uncertainty about the severity and duration of the virus outbreak made it impossible to give a reliable prediction.

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Diess said 2020 would be “a very difficult year” as the virus outbreak “presents us with unknown challenges.”

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Volkswagen last year made net profit of 14.02 billion euros, up 15% from 12.2 billion euros in 2018. Revenue for the year rose 7 percent to 252.6 billion euros ($281 billion).