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Ford, GM, FCA suspend all North American production to stop coronavirus spread

All three major US automakers made the decision alongside the United Auto Workers union.

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All plants will close until at least March 30.

Chevrolet
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Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on March 18 they will suspend all production in the US, Canada and Mexico starting March 19 as it steps up to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The news follows lengthy discussions with the UAW union as it urged the automakers to look out for workers' wellbeing.

On March 17, Ford, GM and FCA met with the UAW to discuss how to stop the spread of COVID-19 at production plants as a handful of workers have tested positive for the virus. Ford confirmed a single worker at its Michigan Assembly Plant tested positive and it closed the plant. Another case surfaced at FCA's plant in Sterling Heights, which led to the automaker to suspend operations last Wednesday. So far, we haven't learned of any cases at GM manufacturing facilities, though an employee at the Warren Technical Center has tested positive for the virus.

Ford's originally imagined its shutdown would last until March 30, though on March 24, it admitted that won't be possible. Over the downtime, it will conduct intense cleaning and sanitizing measures at all of its North American facilities. Like Ford, GM's shutdowns cover all of North America, and during the downtime, the company will sanitize all facilities. GM's shutdown will occur in a cadence and each plant will receive specific instructions. Unlike Ford, GM said production restart "will be reevaluated week-to-week" after March 30. FCA plans to reevaluate the situation at the end of the month.

"[This] action is the prudent thing to do. By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community," said Rory Gamble, president of the UAW. "We have time to review best practices when the plants reopen, and we prevent the possible spread of this pandemic."

Ford, GM and FCA joined Honda as the list of major automakers shutting down production operations grows.

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First published March 18.