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Detroit automakers to shut down factories

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Updated March 18 at 3:10 p.m.:

The Detroit 3 are shutting down production for the rest of the month. The automakers made the announcement this afternoon.

Ford is halting production at its U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities after Thursday evening’s shifts through March 30 to thoroughly clean and sanitize the company’s plants.

Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that.

“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. “In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”

The United Auto Workers had pushed for shutting down production lines amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Today’s 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. We commend Ford for working with us and taking this bold step.”

In a statement FCA CEO Mike Manley said, “Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them. We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty.”

Auto industry analyst Michelle Krebs says the shutdown comes during the usually strong Spring sales season.

“There’s plenty of inventory at dealerships” says Krebs, “So if people were interested in going to shop for a car there probably is what they want there.”

Krebs says auto loan applications have been declining amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Vehicle sales this year were predicted to hit 16.6 million.  But Krebs says “that is not achievable by any stretch” at this point.

She says the financial health of the auto industry will depend on how long and how severe the pandemic is worldwide.

This post was updated to include a statement from FCA.

 Updated March 18 at 2:19 p.m.:

Ford Motor Company is closing it's plants in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, after tonight's shift until March 30.

Both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are expected to do the same.

Ford is closing down it's plants until the end of the month to give them a deep cleaning in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Honda is closing its plants for a week.

Two sources told the Associated Press Fiat Chrysler and General Motors will announce similar closures today.

The United Auto Workers union has been pushing for factories to close because workers are fearful of coming into contact with the virus.

Original Post: March 18 at 12:37 p.m.

A person briefed on the matter says Detroit's three automakers have agreed to close all of their factories due to worker fears about the coronavirus. Automakers are expected to release details of the closure later today. 

The United Auto Workers union has been pushing for factories to close because workers are fearful of coming into contact with the virus.

This is a developing story

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