The Volkswagen Group has ended all production and sales in Russia with immediate effect in light of the country’s ongoing invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
In a tweet, the company said it will stop building vehicles at its plants in Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod until further notice, as well as stopping all exports to the country.
The Kaluga plant is where local manufacturer GAZ builds the VW Polo, VW Tiguan and Skoda Rapid under licence, as well as assembling the Audi Q7 and Audi Q8 from knock-down kits and building petrol engines for various models. It employs 4000 people.
The Nizhny Novgorod facility, meanwhile, builds the VW Taos and three Skoda models: the Kodiaq, Karoq and Octavia.
The company added that it “takes its responsibility for the affected employees in Russia very seriously” and will pay them ‘short-time’ working benefits. A spokesperson told Autocar that there has been no timeframe imposed on this compensation plan, and that the company is keeping it under review.
The move brings the VW Group into line with several other global manufacturers that have halted their Russian operations and joint ventures in recent days, in line with severe trading sanctions imposed upon Russia after president Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine.
Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover are among the firms to halt sales in the regions, while others have been forced to idle global production facilities as a result of the conflict’s impact on their supply chains.
Yesterday, it was confirmed that the VW Group would pause production at its Zwickau and Dresden facilities until Friday, affecting deliveries of its MEB-based EVs, and will donate €1 million (£829,000) to refugee charity UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe.
The company spokesperson told Autocar that the company is keeping dealers and customers up to date regarding production line closures and any impact on delivery times.
In a statement yesterday, the company said: “The Volkswagen Group views the Russian attack on Ukraine with great concern and dismay" and it hopes for a “quick cessation” of hostilities.
It added: “We're convinced that a sustainable solution to the conflict can only take place on the basis of international law. Our thoughts are with all people on site. The safety and integrity of everybody, including our employees, is top priority.”
The latest development will have a profound impact on Skoda, particularly, which sold 90,000 cars in Russia last year, making it the Czech brand's second-biggest global market.