Can you estimate the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic yet?
No, it’s much too early for that. On the positive side, we have been operating profitably and currently have sufficient liquidity. ŠKODA has posted record results in recent years, and yes, every car not rolling off the production line at the moment is hurting us. For years, we’ve been producing at our capacity limit. That’s why, unfortunately, we probably won’t be able to entirely make up for the loss of production this year. All the more reason for us to hope that the coronavirus pandemic can be contained as quickly as possible so that we can supply the many customers waiting for our cars. With our state-of-the-art and comprehensive model portfolio, we’re in a very good position as soon as the shops reopen, public life will get back to normal, and the economy will recover. Despite this challenging situation now, I’m confident that our company will emerge stronger from it, not least because we’re moving even closer together as a big ŠKODA family in these times. Now we’re showing what distinguishes us: solidarity, trust and prudence. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all the Škodians who are handling this situation so well. Special thanks, too, to our social partner KOVO.
Does that mean you are confident of getting through this crisis without job cuts?
With our Strategy 2025, we defined a clear growth plan for 2015 that is proving effective. We intend to continue this plan when we get out of this difficult situation. The time after the coronavirus will come. Our top priority is to keep all Škodians on board for this.
What effects do you expect the coronavirus pandemic to have on the global economy?
The global economy with its globally networked trade flows has been severely affected. Nobody can accurately estimate the effects yet; they will be greater than in the crises of recent decades. The longer public life and the economy are suspended, the greater the risk that the general prosperity we’ve built up in recent years will erode. That’s why the only way we will overcome this challenge together is with a coordinated international effort. The solidarity we need to compensate for the damage caused will have to be even greater than it is now.
What do you mean by that exactly?
Now it is even more important to have pan-European cohesion so that we can get back on track after the crisis. I think it’s right, for example, to discuss Eurobonds or alternative measures that will strengthen our European Union in the long term. At ŠKODA, we’re part of a globally active Group that has its roots in Germany and Europe. I am convinced that a strong, united Europe will be indispensable for our economy, for example the free movement of goods and also our democratic society.
We can adapt very quickly to new forms of work
The current situation is very complex, if not incalculable. How can you plan anything?
We’re working on various scenarios so that we are prepared for all eventualities. Derived from earlier developments in health crises, one possible scenario is described by the experts as a “V-scenario”. This would be a development that is still manageable. According to this scenario, we would be confronted with a major slump in the short term but will emerge from it quickly and even stronger. We are currently seeing the first signs of such a scenario in China. I’m convinced that we can also manage this in Europe – with the right protective measures for people, but above all, with the right attitude. In addition, the respective governments will have to provide considerable stimuli in the form of support programmes and loans for the time after. I am glad that many EU countries are already discussing such measures. This is the only way to make the “V-scenario” even conceivable. There’s a lot at stake. Nations acting in their own self-interest is not the way to achieve the necessary balance between humanity, morality and the economy as the foundation of life.
A printed CIIRC RP95-3D respirator