DETROIT – Ford has said its North American manufacturing facilities will remain closed beyond March 30, when it originally planned to restart production, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.
The automaker last week, following pressure from UAW, has agreed with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to close factories in the United States, Mexico and Canada for more than a week until March 30. Since that decision, a number of US states where Ford has factories, including Michigan, have issued orders for residents to stay home unless they work in essential areas.
The automaker has not proposed a deadline for the reopening of its factories.
Michigan and at least 15 other states in the United States, as well as Ontario and Canada, have established residence orders. In Michigan, the order extends until April 13.
“We are evaluating various options and working with union leaders – including the United Auto Workers and Unifor – on the optimal time to resume vehicle production, keeping the well-being of our workforce at work. ‘spirit’, Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford for North America, said in a statement Tuesday.
General Motors is continuing its plan to halt production until at least March 30, said spokesman David Barnas. “The production status will be reassessed week after week after that,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the company has yet to make a decision on whether the shutdown should be extended after the end of March.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett, speaking on Tuesday on “CBS This Morning”, said the automaker strives to make sure its workers stay healthy.
“What we are trying to do is get through this quarantine period when everyone has a job and then, on the other hand, quickly rebuild demand,” he said. “We are working very closely with the UAW and everyone agrees that when it is time to return to work, everyone will return to work. ”
Hackett said he thought the situation could last until the beginning of May.
“We can see what happened in China, we see what happened in South Korea and I hope we start before,” he said. “We are ready to go. ”
A group representing major US and foreign automakers warned in a letter to US lawmakers with other industry groups on Monday that “Auto industry analysts expect sales to drop by almost 40 % in March compared to 2019 ”.
The letter says that 95% of North American auto factories are currently closed.
Reuters contributed to this report