UPDATE March 31, 2020, 9 a.m.: Ford has indefinitely delayed reopening its plants. The only facility with an opening date is the Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which will reopen April 20 to build ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients.
Cleveland, Ohio – Automaker responses to the growing COVID-19 pandemic mirror the national response – as understanding of the threat grows, so does the severity of countermeasures. In late February and early March, the response was limited to individual shift cancellations for extra cleaning, encouraging office staff to work from home, and limiting travel. Plant and office shutdowns targeted at days or a week followed.
- Ford had targeted a March 30 restart but earlier this week extended shutdowns indefinitely. On Thursday, the automaker gave an April 6 restart date for its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant and an April 14 target for plants in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Missouri. That restart would allow the company to resume building F-Series pickups, several SUVs, and commercial vans. Support plants that build transmissions or stamp body panels would also restart by mid-April.
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) plans an April 14 restart in the U.S. and Canada. The company has not yet announced plans for its facilities in Mexico. The United Auto Workers (UAW) announced earlier this week that two FCA employees (one in Indiana, one in Michigan) dies from COVID-19, and the union had pushed for longer shutdowns to ensure worker safety.
- Honda On Wednesday, Honda officials said the company was shutting down several powersports plants and said they were considering longer shutdowns to North American auto plants. On Thursday, the company announced plans to restart production on April 7, a week longer than it had originally planned. Honda officials said their plants are safe, but with customers in most of the country unable to leave their homes to shop for cars, there’s less need for more new cars on dealers’ lots.
- Toyota initially planned a two-day shutdown, March 23 to March 24, to clean plants, but that plan, announced a little more than a week ago, quickly morphed into a two-week shutdown. On Thursday, the automaker said North American sites would remain closed through April 20, staying closed for nearly a month instead of the initial 48 hours.
- Volkswagen has extended its one-week shutdown in Chattanooga, Tennessee, into a two-week closure. The plant is now scheduled to reopen on April 5 instead of at the end of March.
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and Today's eMobility and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 20 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.