Several major automakers on Thursday suspended production across their North American plants to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus and adjust inventory levels in light of the lack of showroom traffic caused by the pandemic.
The list includes General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Hyundai and Nissan, and more are likely to follow.
GM, Ford and FCA said they will close plants until March 30 and continue to evaluate the production status on a weekly basis thereafter.
Honda said it will close its plants until March 23 and Nissan until April 6.
Hyundai closed its plant in Montgomery, Alabama, on Wednesday after an employee was discovered to have contracted the virus. The automaker hasn't said how long the plant will be down.
Ford also said an employee at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, had also contracted the virus.
Most plants in Asia and Europe are also closed at present. During the downtime, the plants are being cleaned and sanitized, both here and abroad.
In addition to closing plants, the automakers are also asking non-line employees to work from home where possible.
The move to temporarily close plants follows Sunday’s news that GM, Ford and FCA, together with the United Auto Workers union, had formed a joint task force to develop and implement protections for staff.
Rory Gamble, president of the UAW, was pleased with the decision of the automakers whose staff he represents.
“By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community,” he said. “We have time to review best practices when the plants reopen, and we prevent the possible spread of this pandemic.”
Tesla has continued production at its plant in California and Nevada. In California, the automaker has kept its vehicle plant running, albeit with reduced staff numbers, despite a lockdown in the area and the local sheriff department, in this case Alameda County Sheriff, describing Tesla as a non-essential business.
In Nevada, the Storey County Sheriff which represents the area where Tesla's battery plant is located has said the plant is part of the supply chain and can remain open.