Coronavirus Roundup: March 27
Here’s your latest compilation of auto industry activity related to the coronavirus pandemic:
Audi, which halted production in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico, last week because of distribution problems and a parts shortage, now hopes to open its factory on April 1. That’s 12 days sooner than originally announced.
BMW will extend a scheduled Easter shutdown on March 28 at its plant in San Luis Potosi to April 1.
Nissan is suspending production in India until further notice. The company also says it will shutter its factories in Pretoria, South Africa; and Giza, Egypt, for two weeks.
Renault has idled all seven of its plants in South America until further notice, idling nearly 9,000 people. The facilities are located in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Chile.
Tesla is slashing its staff at the company’s Megafactory EV battery plant outside Reno, Nev., by 75%, Reuters reports. The reduction follows partner Panasonic’s decision to suspend cell-making operations within the facility for two weeks.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is working with nonprofits to supply more than 1 million meals to school-age children whose schools have been temporarily closed by the coronavirus crisis. The effort is starting with communities near its big plants in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. FCA plans to expand the program nationwide and to Canada and Mexico.
General Motors says its factory in Warren, Mich., will begin churning out surgical masks by about April 1, ramping up its output to 50,000 per day by mid-month. The company also will launch output of Ventec Life Systems’ critical care ventilators as soon as next month from its factory in Kokomo, Indiana. The plant normally makes precision electrical components.
Hyundai will cover as much as six months of car payments for new customers who lose their jobs before April 30 because of the pandemic. Others who finance certain models through Hyundai Finance by April 30 but lose their jobs can have payments deferred for 90 days.
Kia is the latest carmaker to say it may make face masks at its factory in Yancheng, China. Earlier this week FCA said it will begin making as many as 1 million masks per month at a factory in Asia, starting a few weeks from now.
Toyota is offering the expertise of its U.S. product system experts to help with engineering and manufacturing know-how for pandemic-related medical supply and equipment companies that are trying to quickly hike capacity. Details can be found here.
Daimler is in talks to cinch $11 billion-$16 billion in credit to fortify itself for a lack of sales revenue this year, sources tell Bloomberg News.
Toyota hopes to line up a $9 billion line of credit from two Japanese banks to make sure it has enough funds to soldier through the health crisis, Bloomberg News reports. The carmaker will idle five plants in Japan, starting April 3.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess says the company can’t meet its weekly overhead bill of $2.2 billion (yes, weekly; yes billion) because car sales have collapsed everywhere outside China. Diess job cuts loom if the West fails to get the coronavirus pandemic under control soon.
Once the playground of exotic car makers, the definition of a niche vehicle has expanded to include image vehicles for mainstream OEMs, and specialist models produced on high-volume platforms.
Although the RAV4 has plenty of heritage in the small crossover segment, competition has gotten a whole lot tougher, so Toyota has made significant changes to the fourth-generation model.
According to Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director, “We engineer and build our trucks with customers’ expectations in mind.”