Ford decided Tuesday to temporarily suspend vehicle and engine production in Europe as a result of the expansion of the COVID-19 outbreak, a halt the company believes will “last for weeks.”
Ford explained that the measure is a consequence of the designation of Europe by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “new epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic” and the strong growth in the number of cases in recent days.
The stoppage affects the German plants in Cologne and Saarlouis, the Romanian plant in Krakow and the Spanish plant in Valencia.
“Due to the dramatic impact this crisis is having on the European market and the supply sector, along with recent actions by countries to restrict non-essential travel and personal contacts, we are temporarily stopping production at our major European plants,” Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, said in a statement.
Production at the Valencia plant was already suspended this Monday after three workers tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The German and Romanian plants will suspend production this Thursday, Ford explained, indicating that in all these facilities only essential jobs, such as maintenance and security, will be maintained.
Ford does not know when production will resume and said it depends on several factors, such as the spread of the disease, restrictions on movement in different European countries, the ability of suppliers to supply parts, and increased demand.
Last week, Ford already asked all of its remotely employed employees to work from home, a policy the automaker reaffirmed today.
“Precautionary measures have been taken to protect the safety of the small number of employees who cannot work from home,” the company noted.