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VW, Subaru join other automakers suspending production

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Volkswagen of America will temporarily halt production in the United States at Chattanooga Assembly, while Subaru will temporarily shut down its plant in Indiana — both for at least a week — joining other automakers that have stopped their assembly lines in the face of rapidly slowing sales and the coronavirus threat.

Volkswagen said it is halting production at the plant from Saturday until at least the evening of March 29. The Chattanooga plant builds the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport crossovers as well as the Volkswagen Passat sedan. The two-row Atlas Cross Sport is just beginning to arrive in U.S. dealerships, while a refreshed three-row Atlas was expected to begin rolling into dealerships is a few weeks.

In a release Thursday, VW said it planned to “conduct additional sanitation and cleaning procedures throughout the factory. We will also use this time to assess future production plans and market developments.” It said it would offer full pay to team members during the shutdown.

VW suspended production Monday for a deep cleaning of the plant and to allow its employees to make arrangements within their families to fight coronavirus.

So far, Volkswagen’s other North American plant, in Puebla, Mexico, remains operating. However, parts shortages were impacting production at sibling brand Audi’s  plant in Mexico.

Also Thursday, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Subaru Corp.’s lone manufacturing facility in North America, said it would shut down vehicle production for one week starting on Monday, March 23.

“To further ensure the health and safety of associates and to adjust volume for market demand as a result of COVID-19, Subaru of Indiana Automotive is suspending production, March 23-29,” a plant spokesman said in an emailed statement. “All associates will receive full pay during the one-week shutdown.”

The Indiana plant builds the Outback midsize crossover, Ascent large crossover, Legacy midsize sedan and Impreza compact sedan and hatchback.

Subaru began the year with a U.S. sales goal of 725,000 units in 2020, which would be its 12th consecutive year of record sales and an increase of 3.6 percent over 2019’s sales total of 700,117 units.

Of those deliveries, 52 percent were built at the Indiana factory.

Subaru employs about 6,000 people at the Lafayette, Ind., plant.

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