DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. and General Motors said that all manufacturing sites in the U.S., Mexico and Canada will close until at least March 30 as the automakers battle the coronavirus epidemic.
Ford said the shutdowns will begin after Thursday’s shifts. GM said it will begin cutting production today in a cadence.
“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,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America, said in a statement. “In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”
Ford said it would work with the UAW on plans to restart production.
“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,” Rory Gamble, president of the UAW, said in a statement. “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.”
A Ford spokeswoman said Ford’s parts distribution facilities will remain open so they can supply parts to customers.
During the shutdown, Ford’s U.S. employees that have more than one year seniority will receive approximately 75 percent of their pay through a combination of unemployment and supplemental unemployment benefits, the automaker said. Temporary workers and those with less than one year seniority are eligible for unemployment.
Earlier Wednesday, a source told Automotive News that the Detroit 3 automakers have agreed to shut down their U.S. manufacturing facilities due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
FCA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This story will be updated.