Six More Carmakers Join N. America Shutdowns
Pretty much every car plant in North America will be idle through the next 10 days or so as the industry steps up its game in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, prodded by the United Auto Workers union, kicked it off on March 18.
Since then, six other carmakers—Mercedes, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen—have joined the party.
Car Sales Plummet
The primary objective for all is to make their facilities as free as possible from viral contamination for the sake of the people who work there. At the same time, the carmakers all know that there won’t be much demand for the lost output anyway.
U.S. car sales have plummeted sharply in the past few days. Most carmakers readily acknowledge that the uncertain outlook amid a continuing viral outbreak is a partial justification for suspending production.
How the pandemic plays out also will be a big part of in each companies decision about when to resume production, and at what pace.
Mercedes-Benz said today it will idle its SUV plant in Vance, Ala., and van plant in N. Charleston, S.C., on March 23 for at least two weeks. It could be much longer. The company says only that it will resume operations “when the situation improves.”
Subaru plans to suspend operations March 23-29 at its sole North American assembly plant in Lafayette, Ind., in part to “adjust volume for market demand.”
Tesla, which has resisted health department orders to idle its assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., announced yesterday it will suspend production at the end of the day on March 23. The company hasn’t said when the plant will return to full operations.
Toyota said at mid-week it would halt production throughout North America on March 23-24. Two days later it opted to extend the shutdown through at least April 3, citing the “significant market decline” caused by the pandemic.
Volvo is shutting down its new U.S. plant outside Charleston, S.C.—and its three factories in Sweden—from March 26 to April 14. The company’s factory in Ghent, Belgium, has been closed from March 18 and is scheduled to reopen on April 6.
VW stopped output at its factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Monday for a two-day deep cleaning. Then the company decided to continue the pause at least through March 29, citing “market developments.” VW’s huge complex in Pueblo, Mexico, remains open for now.
BMW plans to operate its giant factory in Spartanburg, S.C., which supplies SUVs worldwide, for another week or so before shutting down, sources tell Bloomberg News.
Kia, whose assembly plant in West Point, Ga., halted production on March 19 because of supply issues. It is scheduled to reopen on March 23. Kia says it used the downtime to sanitize the factory.
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