By on March 16, 2020

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Cassino Italy assembly plant - Image: FCA

Automakers are doing their best to keep the lights on in Europe as a rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic disrupts supply chains and sends workers and staff into quarantine. It’s proving to be a difficult task.

As a new week dawns, numerous automakers have announced plant shutdowns, with Europe’s arguably most famous factory on the verge of going dark itself. Fiat Chrysler isn’t even limiting the scope of its shutdown — the majority of its assembly sites in that continent are closed, effective immediately.

In a statement, FCA said it is shutting down all plants in Italy, Poland, and Serbia until March 27th to “effectively respond to the interruption in market demand by ensuring the optimization of supply.”

“In particular, the suspension of production is being facilitated to enable the Group to be ready to commence production promptly once market conditions allow,” the automaker continued, adding that enhanced cleaning measures are in place at all company locales, a measure bolstered by the (white collar-focused) work-from-home decision announced last week.

“The Group will make use of these stoppages to implement revisions to production and quality control protocols to benefit our customers and enhance overall productivity. The Group is working with its supply base and business partners to be ready to enable our manufacturing operations to deliver previously planned total levels of production despite the suspension when market demand returns.”

In Germany, Volkswagen’s home base is under fire from both the virus and the disruption caused to suppliers. As reported by the Financial Times, VW’s Wolfsburg assembly plant could be forced to suspend production within two days. Sources claim the flow of parts from Italy and Spain, both currently under strict lockdown orders, has led the automaker to dip into its emergency supply. That supply is apparently running low.

“Things are getting more complicated and the situation is changing rapidly,” a spokesperson told FT. Workers who remain at the plant are entering through the back door now, and can only eat food brought from home.

Elsewhere in Germany, the region of Bavaria, home to BMW and Audi, recently declared a state of emergency. Life will not go on as usual at those companies plants.

Meanwhile, Lamborghini production sites in Italy and neighboring Slovakia have ceased operations. Ferrari’s fully offline, too. On the more mainstream side of things, Ford, Renault, and VW-owned Seat have shut down plants in Spain.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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