Fiat Chrysler extends manufacturing shutdown until May 4
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Monday said it is extending its manufacturing shutdown in the United States and Canada until May 4 amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The automaker previously had stated those facilities would remain closed through April 13, but national experts expect coronavirus cases to continue to rise. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday indicated an extension to the state's stay-at-home order, which also expires April 13, could come in the next week as forecasts predict an apex in cases for the state to occur in late April or early May. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. already have extended their North American downtime indefinitely.
"FCA continues to make the health and well-being of its employees a top priority," the automaker said in a statement. "With that in mind, FCA intends to progressively restart its U.S. and Canadian manufacturing facilities beginning May 4."
Mexico's restart date will be subject to a different announcement, the company added. Parts distribution centers remain in operation with paid volunteers.
The company did not specify if the proposed restart date will include the reopening of its Auburn Hills headquarters or major construction projects such as its new assembly plant on Detroit's east side.
"We currently have teams working on our plans to safely and responsibly welcome back our office workforce, all designed with their health and well-being as a top priority," a company spokeswoman said in an email. "As we continue to work on our restart plans, we will communicate those details with our employees at a later date."
FCA began shutting down plants on March 18 in North America. From then to May 4 is 47 days — longer than the United Auto Workers' 40-day national strike against GM last fall during labor negotiations. GM said it lost $3.6 billion in production during the work stoppage.
GM is continuing to monitor the situation, “and when it is determined we can safely resume regular production, we will," the company said.
GM has a small number of volunteer employees at its Spring Hill, Tennessee propulsion plant working on upgrading its 6.2-liter V-8 engine line to be compatible with the technology for the new SUVs GM will begin producing this spring in Arlington, Texas, the company said. The Detroit automaker is continuing to request volunteers early this week to build out current SUV models in Arlington.
“This work is expected to last one week or less after which all volunteers would return to layoff status,” the automaker said. “This temporary restart of work to finish the build out of current models is only at Arlington Assembly, other GM locations are not affected.”
Although Ford has yet to provide a restart date, CEO Jim Hackett last week indicated he expects the downtime will extend into May. Its manufacturing operations in Europe, which is seen as ahead of the U.S.'s COVID-19 curve, will remain closed until at least May 4, the company said last week.
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. also said it is extending its shutdown in the U.S. and Canada through May 1. Toyota Motor Co.'s facilities will remain closed through April 17 with production resuming April 20. Volkswagen AG, meanwhile, has said it plans to resume production Sunday in Tennessee. Hyundai Motor Co.'s Alabama production suspension is until Friday. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. says its plants in Tennessee and Mississippi will remain closed "through late April."
Fiat Chrysler also said it is working with government and union officials to implement new procedures to protect its workers, including distancing workstations and issuing extensive cleaning.
"As a result of these actions," the company added, "we will only restart operations with safe, secure and sanitized workplaces to protect all of our employees."