Continental has been planning to follow in the footsteps of competitors, spinning its powertrain division into a standalone company this year. At least for now, those plans are on hold.
The company has delayed its rollout of Vitesco Technologies because of the choppy business environment. A vote on the split will not take place this year. It remains in Continental’s long-term plans, and the company remains bullish on projected electrification trends.
“Although the effects of the coronavirus crisis have temporarily halted the market, the basis for future market growth has not changed,” CEO Elmar Degenhart said in a statement. “We are therefore continuing to rigorously pursue our plans for the spin-off. This is undoubtedly the right step.”
Disruptions due to the pandemic have hurt the company overall. Continental reported a decline in consolidated sales of €9.8 billion ($10.62 billion) in the first quarter, down 11 percent year over year. But the sales figures nonetheless beat analysts’ estimates. The company has refrained from issuing an outlook for the remainder of 2020.
In North America, Continental had begun implementing plans to close two factories over the next four years as part of a previously announced restructuring. In April, North American President Bob Lee took over for the retired Jeff Klei.
“The one positive I’ve taken away from this situation is that it is forcing a much tighter communication and collaboration with your partners and customers,” Lee told Automotive News.
Continental has no specific dates or time frames for restarting production. A company spokesperson said internal safety protocols are being developed and hazard assessments are being made. Those protocols include an increase in the frequency of cleaning the plants and shortened or staggered work shifts.