PSA latest carmaker to halt European production to limit coronavirus impact

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Carmakers including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford and now Groupe PSA have temporarily suspended production at various plants in Europe in response to the Covid-19 emergency.

PSA is closing all its plants over the next few days, including the facility at Mulhouse, France

The latest announcement comes from Groupe PSA, which has said it’s halting production at all its sites in Europe, including the UK, on a phased-in basis until 27 March, “due to the acceleration observed in recent days of serious Covid-19 cases close to certain production sites, supply disruptions from major suppliers, as well as the sudden decline in the automobile markets”.

The closure takes effect today (16 March) at the plants at Mulhouse, France and Madrid, Spain and will see all plants, including Ellesmere Port and Luton in the UK, closed by 19 March.

The announcement comes as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. also announces that its subsidiaries FCA Italy and Maserati will temporarily suspend production across the majority of their European manufacturing plants until 27 March 2020; the result of a downturn in market demand.

The temporary closures affect six facilities in Italy as well as its Kragujevac site in Serbia and the Tychy plant in Poland. It’s the latest action to tackle coronavirus by the carmaker, which has already introduced measures including enhanced social distancing between employees at work-stations.

Ford has also said it’s shutting its Spanish plant in Valencia for a week after three employees tested positive for Covid-19. The carmaker added that it was taking quick action to follow the established protocol, including the identification and self-isolation of all employees who had close contact with the affected workers. The plant assembles various models including the Kuga, Mondeo and Transit Connect.

In the US, where carmakers’ auto operations are expected to be shortly hit by the pandemic, the United Auto Workers (UAW) labour union has tied up with GM, Ford and FCA to form a Covid-19/Coronavirus Task Force to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies.

The organisations are working together to coordinate action to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including enhanced visitor screening, increased cleaning and sanitising of common areas and touch points, and implementing safety protocols for people with potential exposure, as well as those who exhibit flu-like symptoms.

In contrast, carmakers continue to open up production in China, where coronavirus cases are on the decline, but the impact on global car production, demand and lead times is yet to be seen.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.