Fiat Chrysler Association India, like other makers in the country, has done a great deal of CSR activities during this ongoing pandemic. FCA India has also stopped production and is preparing for the post-lockdown phase as and when it happens. At present, the company is concerned about its employees and has given them a set of instructions to be followed while working from home. We caught up with Partha Datta, MD and president of FCA India on the company’s plans going forward and what new things we can expect to see. We didn’t ask them about the product line-up as it is already in the public domain that there are three new cars scheduled to come – Compass facelift, sub-4m SUV and a new 7-seater SUV.
PD: We are ready to restart manufacturing operations and awaiting the necessary permissions from the Government. Our employees, dealers and associated stakeholders are adviced to prepare to return to work as soon as the lockdown is lifted and the situation is conducive. Although commercial activity had slowed down in the second half of March and was suspended in April, the business was being managed from home with a high level of engagement with our employees, dealers, bankers, and other associated stakeholders. Resuming business is carefully planned, being fully aware of the risks that would ensue once people return to the office. Our planning includes the continuation of maintaining strict physical distance and high levels of sanitisation across our offices and the manufacturing plant. Health and safety of our workforce is our priority therefore, returning to work will be implemented by keeping their safety in mind.
PD: We have drafted new safety and health guidelines for our work force that will have an emphasis on physical distancing and high levels of cleanliness in the workplace. Employees will be permitted to work from home in accordance with a set schedule developed by our HR department. Our external stakeholders will be advised to follow similar guidelines to make sure their staff is healthy and safe in their workplace.
PD: Covid’s impact on the Indian automobile industry is evident in April, a zero sale month for every manufacturer. The recovery of the entire supply chain and the commercial end will be slow and challenging. I believe there are opportunities in this crisis – customers might prefer personal transportation as a safer alternative to ride-sharing. Car leasing might be another opportunity and so will be pre-owned cars. Signs of recovery are being seen in some global markets. We recently reopened our Sevel plant in Atessa, Italy. 6000 employees are back at work adhering to high levels of cleanliness and sanitization. We are confident that the impact of COVID will start tapering sooner rather than later. The next focus is to plan a smooth reopening of operations across the supply chain, and we are on the ball with it.
FCA is going to adopt a new retail strategy. Partha told us that a 360-degree web-based module is being adopted. The entire dealer network will be linked with this module. You can read more about this here.
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