Ford, General Motors and Chrysler plan to temporarily close all U.S factories as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
Ford said it plans to close its factories in the U.S., Canada and Mexico after Thursday evening and through March 30. The company said it would work closely with the United Auto Workers union in the coming weeks to restart plants and explore additional protocols and procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“We’re continuing to work closely with union leaders, especially the United Auto Workers, to find ways to help keep our workforce healthy and safe — even as we look at solutions for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America.
General Motors said it’s closing all North American factories at least until March 30 and will evaluate the situation on a weekly basis after that.
Fiat Chrysler said it will cease operations at its plants across North America “progressively from today through the end of March.” The company said it will re-evaluate the situation at the end of the lockdown and will work closely with the UAW in the meantime to facilitate safe working conditions, including shift timings and enhanced cleaning protocols.
All together, the closures would affect 25 final-assembly factories and 150,000 union workers, according to the UAW and each automaker. General Motors has 11 factories, followed by Ford’s eight factories and FCA six.
RBC Capital Markets adjusted its forecast for auto stocks and said that fallout from the coronavirus could send global auto production down 16% in 2020, fuelled partially by an expected 20% decline in U.S. sales.
The coronavirus has now infected more than 212,000 people across the globe and has killed at least 8,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In the U.S., it has infected more than 6,400 and has killed at least 114.