COVID-19 and plant closures: The auto industry's response, potential return dates
Automakers across the US and Europe enacted temporary shutdowns in March, including Detroit's Big Three, but numerous automakers are prepared to head back to work in the weeks to come.
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, automakers are taking extreme measures in the form of plant closures to halt the spread of COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes. The situation remains fluid, but automakers in Europe and the US are starting to inch closer to returning to work.
Here are all the automakers and companies that have elected to halt production in the US and Europe so far, accompanied by a targeted return-to-work date. Information on Detroit's Big Three begins our coverage, followed by all other shutdowns organized by the date automakers announced them. As companies begin to bring plants back online, we'll remove them from this list. You can find them on our list of automakers returning to work with plants restarted in some capacity.
Ford shut down all European and North American production on March 19 to help combat the spread of COVID-19. While Ford intended to reopen facilities and restart production on March 30, the company on March 31 delayed that goal indefinitely. Ford began manufacturing personal protective equipment in lieu of vehicle production at some facilities in late March.
Ford said in May it will return to work on May 18.
GM joined Ford on March 18 in announcing a total suspension of all North American production starting March 19. The automaker said it would pull its facilities offline in a "cadence" and each plant would receive specific instructions. GM hasn't made any announcements regarding when its plants will resume normal production, but it is building ventilators and masks at two US GM facilities. The automaker made the decision to build personal protective equipment on its own before the Trump administration forced it to do so by invoking the Defense Production Act.
FCA joined Ford and GM on March 18 in announcing it would suspend all North American operations to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While GM and Ford haven't established new dates to restart production, FCA told Roadshow on April 7 it and planned to bring workers back on May 4. The automaker said in May it will return to work on May 18.
The Japanese automaker first said on March 24 it will halt production at its Japanese plants for 13 days. On April 22, following half shifts at its plants, the automaker said it will shut down the facilities starting April 27. It's unclear when facilities will come back online.
The British luxury carmaker said on March 24 it would suspend all production starting the same day until April 20. A representative told Roadshow on April 22 factories remain idled and the automaker continues to monitor the situation. The firm did begin producing personal protective equipment for the UK's National Health Service earlier this month to support the fight against COVID-19.
On May 7, Aston Martin said it's drawn up detailed return-to-work plans and will begin returning to work this month.
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In the US, Volvo's plant went idle starting March 26 with plans to restart operations on April 14. Volvo has since nixed the target and hoped to restart work at its US plant on May 4. The plant has not begin production yet, however. Volvo also reported a bit of hope from China, though. All four of its Chinese plants are up and running again and Volvo noted showroom traffic has returned to normal.
The startup electric carmaker said on March 20 it would suspend all operations at Rivian facilities. The automaker had not started production of its first vehicle, the R1T electric pickup, but preproduction was underway. All workers are supposed to receive their full pay, but the company didn't say when it expects to come back online. In April, the company confirmed the work stoppage will delay the R1T and R1S electric vehicles until next year.
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On March 20, Jaguar-Land Rover confirmed it would temporarily shut down production at its UK facilities. Plants in Brazil and India will continue humming along for now, and the automaker said it hopes to restart production in the UK on April 20. JLR told Roadshow on April 22 its plants will remain shut down for a few more weeks as it continues to "monitor the situation and follow the guidance of all relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate."
Starting March 21, Volkswagen temporarily suspended production at its manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The automaker made the announcement on March 19 and said all workers will receive their full pay during this time. Like numerous other facilities, VW said it would use the week to conduct a deep clean of the facility and sanitize the entire factory. As of April 9, the automaker said it's not clear when it will be able to resume operations normally and furloughed the entire production and maintenance workforce. The furloughs will last no longer than four weeks, and while workers will lose their pay, VW will still pay health care benefits and bonuses.
On April 22, VW said it plans to restart production in Tennessee on May 3. In an updated assessment on April 29, the automaker walked back on the May 3 restart plans and extended the shutdown. The company cited supplier readiness and market demand for the decision and did not name a new date to restart production. All workers will remain furloughed.
On March 18, Toyota joined a growing list of automakers suspending all North American production operations, saying every plant in the US, Canada and Mexico would shut down starting March 23. On March 26, Toyota reassessed the situation and said the production suspension will now last until April 20. On April 8, the target date moved to May 1. On April 30, Toyota once again moved its restart date to the week of May 11, citing supply chain issues.
Toyota said every facility will undergo a thorough cleaning process and teams will sanitize the entire facility. Toyota asked workers to take the time to also help adjust to life at home as more regions close schools, leaving children at home.
The Japanese automaker announced on March 18 it would suspend all production in the US starting March 20. The plant shutdowns were supposed to run until April 6, but on April 16 Nissan announced plants would remain shut down until mid-May. On May 7, the company extended its shutdown until further notice without giving a revised date.
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