Volkswagen expects the car market in Germany to recover in the summer after the auto maker was forced to suspend output due to the coronavirus pandemic, an executive told a newspaper on Wednesday.

"We assume that Germany will return to normal in the summer," Juergen Stackmann, management board member for the Volkswagen passenger cars brand, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"We must learn how to live with the virus," he said, adding that he did not expect the virus to disappear again quickly. "The standstill cannot last longer than summer ... Society and the economy cannot withstand that."

The German auto giant, which employs about 670,000 people worldwide across the group, last week announced it will stop production in Europe. Volkswagen also suspended its car production in Russia over a supply shortage caused by the coronavirus outbreak in Europe. Factories in other regions including South America have also halted operations since then, while Volkswagen’s operations in its largest market China are gradually ramping up output again after the shutdown.

Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess on Saturday warned that the coronavirus crisis may force the company to keep its factories shut for longer than initially planned.

“Most of our factories are closing for two weeks, in some regions for three. It is likely that these measures will last," Diess said in a Linkedin post.

The company's brands include Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda.

"The spreading of the virus will not have come to a standstill in several weeks from now. So that we need to be ready, to live with this threat for a long time - until effective medicines or a vaccination are available," Diess said.

Amid the fight against coronavirus, Volkswagen has offered to join other manufacturers around the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators.

Also read: Volkswagen tests ventilator output as carmakers join coronavirus fight

In a statement, Volkswagen said it had assembled a task force, was testing materials and checking supply chains to see how it can use 3D printing to help manufacture hospital ventilators and other life-saving equipment.

(With inputs from agencies)

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