Bad Omen: Shutdown Extended in China's Manufacturing Heartland

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
bad omen shutdown extended in chinas manufacturing heartland

If you recall our piece from yesterday, automakers like Nissan are counting on Chinese workers to return to their factories on February 21st, thus preventing a widespread parts shortage that could idle plants on a global scale. That date would be the first day of resumed work in Hubei province following a government-mandated shutdown of all facilities — a tactic aimed at halting the spread of novel coronavirus.

If workers return Friday, the thinking went, the supply chain disruption currently afflicting the world’s automakers won’t be too bad. Well, bad news.

China now says Hubei won’t come online until March 11th.

As reported by Reuters, the province has asked its workplaces to stay shuttered, with only those providing essential public services allowed to open their doors. That list includes, obviously, workplaces tasked with getting a handle on the viral outbreak. Schools will remain closed and presumably all factories will, too.

A report in Bloomberg Wednesday said Nissan sources 800 vehicle components from Hubei, with sources claiming plant shutdowns will begin in Japan as early as Feb. 23 if workers don’t return on the 21st. Other automakers face similar hurdles. The likes of Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler have already seen non-Chinese plants go dark in response to the parts disruption.

Thus far, no North American plant has had to stop production, though a UAW local warned last week that General Motors’ U.S. truck plants could be in danger if the coronavirus crisis continues into March. A GM spokesperson soon responded, claiming the automaker was doing what it could to locate other sources.

A growing concern in the region is a new outbreak in South Korea, linked to a “super-spreader” who was a member of a religious sect. One person died in that country Thursday as the number of infected rose above 100.

“We are seeing infections in some areas like Seoul and Daegu where it’s difficult to confirm the cause or routes of the infections,” South Korea’s vice health minister Kim Gang-lip told the Associated Press. Some 2.5 million people living near the epicenter of the new outbreak have been told to stay home and not venture outdoors.

Should the outbreak spread, it would put that country’s factories — and output — in peril.

[Image: IHOR SULYATYTSKYY/Shutterstock]

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  • Hummer Hummer on Feb 20, 2020

    I wonder if this will be China’s Chernobyl? Either way all these American companies worked with a communist country to take work away from their own country of origin, so again, no sympathy here they will reap what they sow.

    • See 7 previous
    • JimZ JimZ on Feb 22, 2020

      @Schurkey it's sad that the American mindset of distrusting expertise over "gut feeling" or even "what-eva! I do wha' I want!" Asimov was right, for sure.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Feb 20, 2020

    The sad part is that China has been under reporting deaths from the flu virus. In a separate story about the funeral industry in China that was posted earlier this week, crematoriums are working 24/7 to keep up with the piles of bodies. If you do the math, the death count is being under reported by half or more. Things are so bad that portable incinerators are being brought in (a dozen or more) to handle "medical waste". You do the math. China has been lying.

    • R Henry R Henry on Feb 20, 2020

      Any student of history fully understands that "truth" has no meaning in authoritarian regimes.

  • CoastieLenn They absolutely should.
  • Arthur Dailey Thanks for the clarification.@JeffS has nicely summarized most of my original comment.I greatly dislike the 'touring' light treatment. It seems like we all do. This generation of Mark is too short to pull off the continental hump and fake engine vents. With them the proportions look odd.As Corey so nicely put it 'disco was dead and so was its car'. Successive generations generally reject the vehicles that their parents drove (or drove them around in). And as the children of Boomers grew, the Boomers gave up their PLC's and rather than turning to station wagons to transport their growing brood turned to the newly available minivan.And the generation behind them, rather than aspiring to a PLC, instead leased 'German driving machines'.
  • SCE to AUX "Toyota has dropped a pic of the next Tacoma on Instagram."This is why the splashy auto show reveals are dead.
  • Sckid213 I feel like the Camry in Japan is what oddballs like the Kia K9 and Hyundai Eqqus felt here. Obviously those were higher-end vehicles than Camry, but they felt like they were in the wrong dimension here in the U.S.
  • FreedMike The Falcon was fast and temperamental. Is Ford sure this is what it wants to advertise?