Ford Motor Co. announced today it would temporarily shut down vehicle and engine production in continental Europe as the World Health Organization designated Europe the new epicenter of the coronavirus spread.
The automaker says it expects the shutdown to continue for a number of weeks.
Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe said in a statement that the impact on the company’s European facilities has thus far been limited, but “due to the dramatic impact this ongoing crisis is having on the European market and the supplier industry – together with the recent actions by countries to restrict all but essential travel and personal contact” the company decided to temporarily halt production.
Ford said that component supplies have been “increasingly interrupted” at their manufacturing sites in Europe, and sales have dropped with dealers in some countries having to close their operations.
Ford’s Valencia assembly and engine facility in Spain has already temporarily shut down beginning Monday, March 16. Three workers there were confirmed with coronavirus over the past weekend.
Ford’s manufacturing facilities in Cologne, Craiova, Romania and Saarlouis, Germany will shut down Thursday, March 19.
The company said that while it hoped the shutdown would only be for a short while, the length of closure depends on the virus’s spread, country and EU restrictions on movement, and the ability to access components.
Ford’s work-from-home requirements for employees not required to be on site will continue, the company said.
In the U.S., the UAW announced this morning that an employee at General Motors’ Warren Technical Center tested positive for coronavirus.
Main photo: Cobots at Ford facility in Cologne, Germany.