- It’s official: Ford and General Motors will suspend production at North American plants for two weeks. Honda and Toyota also announced today that they will also temporarily halt U.S. production.
- According to Automotive News, Fiat Chrysler reportedly will begin a rolling shutdown of plants between today and the end of March, while Tesla will cut staff at its Fremont, California, plant from 10,000 to 2500 but won’t close yet.
- The Ford, GM, and Honda facilities will close until March 30, according to today’s announcements.
The spread of COVID-19 first pushed the automakers to have their salaried employees to work from home and now, manufacturers have moved to suspend production at their U.S. factories. On Wednesday, Ford, General Motors, and Honda all announced that they will halt production in the U.S., a decision that follows the same move across much of Europe.
Ford and GM’s announcement of the plant shutdown followed a negotiation with the United Auto Workers. The union had originally pushed for a shutdown of U.S. plantsto protect workers from the virus, but by Tuesday, it appeared that the UAW, Ford, GM, and FCA had agreed on a plan that averted plant shutdowns. FCA is expected to announce a halt in production later Wednesday.
Ford will close its plants in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada by Thursday night through March 30. The company noted in a press release that it will be cleaning the factories during that time. “Today’s action is the prudent thing to do. By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community,” Rory Gamble, president of the UAW, said in a statement. “We have time to review best practices when the plants reopen, and we prevent the possible spread of this pandemic.”
GM said it “will begin a systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America” and will also suspend production until March 30 with cleaning while production is idle. Honda also announced today that it would suspend production, doing so beginning March 23 for six days “due to an anticipated decline in market demand related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Toyota is closing its 14 plants in the U.S. on Monday and Tuesday of next week so that they can undergo a deep clean.
Tesla’s plant, located in Fremont, California, is within the area around San Francisco where a shelter-in-place order has been ordered, and businesses that provide nonessential services must send workers home. Nonetheless, the Tesla factory is still in production as the company says it has not received official word on the status of its production and whether or not it is “essential.”
Coronavirus Plans from U.S. Dealers, European Plants
Plants across Europe have halted production as the spread of COVID-19 worsens and dealerships there have been forced to close with government mandates banning nonessential businesses from operating (in some areas, repair shops have been deemed essential business).
Similarly, most dealerships in the U.S. haven’t suspended operations. Instead, many, especially those in Seattle, have shifted their focus to making transactions online, according to Bloomberg. San Francisco has issued a mandate banning nonessential business but deemed dealerships essential, allowing them to keep service and repair centers open.
Elsewhere, though, as states including New Jersey and Connecticut have implemented mandates of the closure of nonessential businesses, the question of whether dealerships, sales rooms, or repair shops are included has been left unclear. But as bans on nonessential business expand elsewhere, new rules could force the closure, at least of showrooms.