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Coronavirus deepens impact on auto manufacturing
Ferrari, Lambo, FCA, Ford announce plant closures as coronavirus fallout spreads
16 Mar 2020
THE automotive manufacturing industry is continuing to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with a number of global car-makers announcing temporary factory closures.
With Italy being one of the worst-affected countries in the world, supercar manufacturer Ferrari has announced it will shut the doors of both its manufacturing plants for a two-week period ending March 27.
Ferrari’s Maranello head office and factory, as well as its Modena production facility will close its doors in response to the Italian government’s orders on March 11 to close commercial activities with the exception of those providing basic necessities such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
The supercar brand also admitted that the shut-down will result in its first “serious supply chain issues”, but has not divulged exactly how much of a production delay the closure will result in.
Italy’s coronavirus situation has steadily worsened over the past week, with the country reporting 368 deaths yesterday, which makes its overall tally of 1809 the highest outside of China.
Likewise, compatriot supercar brand Lamborghini has also closed its production facility in Sant’Agata until March 25, with chairman Stefano Domenicali saying the brand will constantly monitor the situation to decide the appropriate time to reopen.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has also announced it will temporarily close its 16 production facilities in Italy, ranging from Turin in the country’s north to Naples on the southern west coast.
The range of factories make engines and cars for a number of its brands including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Maserati.
A program of working from home has been implemented where possible, while all administrative areas of the company will continue normal activities.
PSA Group will halt output at all its factories across Europe, including those for Opel/Vauxhall in Germany and the UK respectively, while Ford will close its factory in Valencia, Spain, for at least a week after three employees tested positive for COVID-19. All other employees who came into contact with the affected workers will be isolated.
The Valencia plant produces around 400,000 vehicles per year and employs over 7000 workers.
In the US, the big three local manufacturers – Ford, FCA and General Motors – have teamed up with the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) to formulate a taskforce that aims to implement strategies to protect manufacturing and warehouse employees.
Actions already in place include enhanced visitor screening, safety protocols for those exhibiting symptoms or have had exposure to infected people, and increased sanitisation of working areas.
The taskforce will devise plans for manufacturing going forward, working from home, health education and other areas that would be beneficial to ensuring employees’ safety.
In Britain, prime minister Boris Johnson is considering implementing measures that would require engineering firms, including car-makers, to switch its production lines to start manufacturing NHS ventilators to help those affected by the virus.
The prime minister’s office said it wanted the manufacturing sector to “come together to help the country” by producing more ventilators, which are critical in helping vulnerable individuals affected by the respiratory virus.
According to the BBC, companies such as Rolls-Royce have already indicated a willingness to help, however a number of questions remain, including companies’ ability to switch manufacturing capabilities, material sourcing issues and trademark issues around different ventilator designs.
It is not yet known exactly how much the production of British vehicles will be affected by the manufacturing switch.
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