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Automakers’ catch-up plan? Skip summer breaks

2 min read

American Honda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are canceling their traditional summer factory downtime at U.S. and Canadian plants in order to boost vehicle inventory as sales improve thanks to easing stay-at-home guidelines.

The automakers are eager to replenish inventory after their factories were idled for several weeks in accordance with government coronavirus rules.

Detroit 3 automakers have until next week to notify the UAW of planned changes in their own production calendar. Full-size pickups, in particular, have seen falling inventories as sales have remained surprisingly brisk during the lockdown.

Honda lost seven weeks of production from March 23 to May 11 as factories across North America shut down to reduce coronavirus transmission. Now it is adding production days on June 27, 29 and 30 that had previously been designated as days off for plant workers, the company said in an email to Automotive News.

“With the auto market improving as stay-at-home orders begin to loosen nationally, Honda has seen a steady climb in customer traffic at our dealerships over the last few weeks. We are expecting a strong sales recovery this month and into the summer sales season,” the company said.

“To provide our dealers with the vehicles they need, all Honda automobile, engine and transmission plants in the U.S. and Canada will run additional scheduled production on June 27 and June 29-30, which had previously been scheduled as downtime,” the automaker said. Honda has U.S. factories in Alabama, Indiana and Ohio.

BMW said it has canceled its planned break June 29 to July 2 and will build for most of that week at its plant in Spartanburg, S.C. July 3 remains a factory holiday.

Mercedes-Benz said that it will “continue to produce during the planned summer shutdown to ensure the required production capacities of the highly demanded SUV models coming out of Alabama.”

Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this story.

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