The top two automakers in the United States, General Motors (GM) and Ford, have temporarily suspended production in North America in the face of falling vehicle demand due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The two manufacturers announced Wednesday that their plants will cease production of automobiles and components in the next few hours and will remain closed initially until March 30. Fiat Chrysler (FCA), the third-largest US automaker, is expected to announce similar measures Wednesday.
Today, Honda took the same step by suspending production of vehicles, engines, and transmissions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
GM and Ford said the hiatus will allow the cleanup of their facilities to protect their employees once they resume production.
Last week, the three manufacturers had already established that those workers who could carry out their tasks remotely, remain in their homes to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.
GM President and CEO Mary Barra said they are “taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plants safe and recent events in North America make it clear that this is appropriate.”
GM, which will halt production at its plants in stages depending on the characteristics of each facility, said that the resumption of production will be examined “every week” starting March 30.
For his part, Ford President in North America Kumar Galhotra explained that “in these unprecedented times, we are exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”
This Wednesday, the FCA production plant in Sterling Heights, near Detroit (USA), was forced to suspend production, the second time in less than 12 hours, after one of its workers gave positive in coronavirus tests.
Also today, Ford had to temporarily shut down Michigan’s vehicle assembly plant for the same reason.
For days, the United Auto Workers (UAW) unions in the United States and Unifor in Canada have been negotiating temporary and partial stoppages of their facilities with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), both to adjust production to demand and to protect COVID-19 workers.
This Tuesday, Ford announced the suspension of its production in Europe “for weeks”, a measure that affects the plants in Colonia and Saarlouis, the one in Krakow and the one in Valencia.