Ford, General Motors, and FCA Halt US Production of New Cars: Report
Production is not expected to resume until March 30 at the soonest.
Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the automotive industry. Sales are down, supply chains have been severed, and manufacturers around the world are closing shop to combat the spread of the virus. On Wednesday, a report from Automotive News indicated that the big three automakers in Detroit—Ford, GM, and FCA—will be following suit.
At the time of writing, Ford was the first automaker to corroborate the rumor, announcing that it will begin closures following the evening shifts on March 19. The Blue Oval confirmed it will suspend production of its U.S., Canadian, and Mexican assembly plants through March 30 to "thoroughly clean is facilities" in an attempt to stymie the spread of Covid-19.
“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,” said Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers union. “We have time to review best practices when the plants reopen, and we prevent the possible spread of this pandemic. We commend Ford for working with us and taking this bold step.”
Ford expressed that it plans to work closely with UAW leaders on structuring a restart plan.
In addition to its North American closures, Ford says it will also temporarily suspend production at its two facilities in Germany and one plant in Romania. Production is already suspended at Ford assembly and engine facility in Spain as of Monday after three workers tested positive for coronavirus.
Following Ford's announcement, General Motors also announced its shutdown on Wednesday afternoon, citing an agreement with the UAW to ensure the health and safety of people entering the GM plants. GM says its suspension will last until at least March 30 and will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis thereafter.
FCA chimed in with notice of its closure late Wednesday afternoon, indicating that all North American production will cease after the end of business today and last throughout the end of the month. FCA says it will re-evaluate the possibility of extending its closure closer to April.
“Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them." said Mike Manley, FCA CEO. "We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty.”
This turn of events is quite different than the industry's position as of last week when no interruption was publicly anticipated by both domestic and foreign automakers with facilities in the United States. As the situation continues to unfold, more automakers are deciding to err on the side of caution and halt production just as they have in Europe. Detroit joins Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen in temporarily suspending production.
This is a developing story.
Update: Internal memos received by The Drive indicate GM's closures will begin on March 25th and vary based on the plant location.
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