By on March 12, 2020

In what is perhaps the shape of things to come here in North America, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to temporarily close several Italian factories in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Closures will be enacted at Pomigliano d’Arco, Melfi, Atessa and Cassino — with each factory stalled for several days between Wednesday and Saturday.

This comes after FCA took steps to limit the number of people passing through the doors of its Italian offices and factories. Late last month, the automaker issued a letter to suppliers and prospective visitors explaining that it would refuse anyone who recently visited Asia or any of the Italian municipalities initially affected by the virus outbreak. It then set up sanitation sites to encourage employee hand washing while staff attempted to sterilize their respective workplaces — a valiant effort that was probably doomed from the start. 

FCA said daily production rates will be lowered to accommodate the adapted manufacturing processes, one that aims for lessened employee contact. While it believes this will help slow the spread of COVID-19, experts have begun suggesting most regions are too far along to avoid mass contagion. Still, staggered shifts and more employees working from home should at least delay its progress, allowing for a lessened impact over time. That buys factories more production time and helps keep hospitals from being overrun — a problem the Italian government admits is occuring.

However, building cars, even at relaxed volumes, is pointless when there’s nobody to buy them. Italy’s largest dealer group, Autotorino, says it will close its operations to contend with viral complications. On Tuesday, Chairman Plinio Vanini said via Facebook that the closure should last until April 3rd — noting that the company felt the decision was “the most effective and courageous way to combat the current situation.”

Automotive News reports that Autotorino had 1,700 employees and a reported revenue of 1.22 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in 2019. Its dealerships in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia sell automobiles from the Fiat, Jeep, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Subaru brands.

Even though most European factories remain open, the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to climb. Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli plans to limit production for several days at Settimo Torinese after a worker tested positive for the virus; it’s probably just a matter of time before more European automakers and parts suppliers have to make similar calls.

Meanwhile, news out of China continues to suggest that factories are reopening as people return to work. That would seem to offer hope that businesses won’t confront too much downtime and that the virus isn’t impossible to manage after a sizable outbreak. Yet current reporting often states that Chinese factories are resuming operation without offering any clarification. Many of the freshly opened facilities are operating at reduced capacities, with manufacturers frequently noting their Chinese suppliers are working with half their usual staff. Plenty still appear to be closed, however.

In Hubei province, all non-essential factories are required to remain closed by decree of the Chinese government. That basically means food production and medical supplies only, with most other facilities forced to remain closed until at least March 20th.

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28 Comments on “FCA Closes Italian Facilities Over Coronavirus, Ditto for Autotorino Dealer Group...”


  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    “building cars, even at relaxed volumes, is pointless when there’s nobody to buy “

    C-19…the go to reducing automotive inventory.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    The nations that are having the explosions of cases did practically nothing until the cat was out of the bag. It is time to stop overhyping this – it is not the Influenza of 1917. Whether this even reaches SARS in the US will tell us a lot. But then again, that Administration was God and we all know that they could do no wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      you know, it’s kind of a chicken-or-egg situation: Does a steady diet of politicization and conspiracy theories rot your brain? or is a rotten brain just more likely to latch onto conspiracy theories and political nonsense?

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        People are much more motivated and captivated by fear and anger than any other state of mind. It’s why most news is coronavirus. It’s why the market is absolutely tanking. It’s why there’s no toilet paper at Target, Walmart, Costco or your local stores, but there’s plenty of peanut butter, bread, soup, etc. People were told to go buy toilet paper.

        People are losing their minds because their fears are being magnified every time they hear the news.

        As Aaron Rodgers said a few years ago, we all need to R-E-L-A-X.

        • 0 avatar
          dont.fit.in.cars

          “It’s why most news is coronavirus. It’s why the market is absolutely tanking.”

          Nope. It’s tanking because a China output is down 17%. 50% of US Corporations design in the US and manufacture in China skirting environmental and labor laws…then import for US customers. To contain the virus and let it run its course China quarantined 100 million people. If they cannot work no product is produced.

          C19, although no more dangerous than flu, exposes China’s weakness and world supply chain is taking notes. Wall Street pulled out, collected profits and will recapitalize shifting supply to South America, and Southeast Asia.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “C19, although no more dangerous than flu,”

            WE DON’T KNOW THIS.

            reading stuff on Facebook that “sounds right” to you doesn’t make you an expert in infectious diseases.

          • 0 avatar
            dont.fit.in.cars

            “WE DON’T KNOW THIS.”

            Yes we do Jim. We know infection rates, deaths and survival rates.

            “reading stuff on Facebook that “sounds right” to you doesn’t make you an expert in infectious diseases.”

            I don’t do Facebook Jim nor any social media culling speech.

          • 0 avatar

            According to the WHO the fatality rate for the flu is .1%. C19 they are claiming at 3.5%. Some countries have experienced higher then this as well. So while agree there is a bit more fear mongering then required, it is indeed more deadly then average flu.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “I don’t do Facebook Jim nor any social media culling speech.”

            So, FOX News is your go to source for accurate information then, got it

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “So, FOX News is your go to source for accurate information then, got it”

            I used to avoid FoxNews. Couldn’t stand their hosts interrupting their guests.

            But it turned out I was wrong. FoxNews has been the consistently highest rated news channel by the NAB and Nielssen ratings, blowing all others off the air.

            I still avoid Fox, preferring NewsyTV, Bloomberg, CNBC and WSJ, but facts are facts: FoxNews is the best in the business.

            And that ain’t me saying that. That’s the industry saying that.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ “I don’t do Facebook Jim nor any social media culling speech.”

            So, FOX News is your go to source for accurate information then, got it”

            I love this comment I want to hang it somewhere, someone states they don’t get their news from a bunch of blowhards spending all day on a social media site, therefore they must watch some lefty propaganda channel that the left has falsely branded as “right wing”.

            Either way everyone loses.

            It’s everything wrong with this nation wrapped in one shtstained present.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Fox is “lefty propaganda?” The same Fox that spends all of its days slobbering all over Donald Trump, the president that it thinks finally eclipsed Washington and Lincoln as the ultimate leader and should serve for life without another election?*

            I thought I had heard it all. I guess not.

            *slight exaggeration for effect, but Fox and Friends really does regularly talk about giving him a third term.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “talk about giving him a third term.”

            Yup, I hope that after Trump gets sworn-in Jan 2021, with both the Senate and the House firmly in the grasp of the GOP, that they will overturn that two-term limit imposed after FDR was elected for a third term.

            Good Presidents are hard to come by. Great Presidents even harder.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            You need legislative approval from 38 states to amend the constitution. Ain’t gonna happen.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I know. It’s wishful thinking.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            You have what 3? 4? individuals on the network that are right of center? The rest is an echo chamber of Bret Bairs’, Juan Williams’, Chris Wallace’s and Paul Ryan’s.

          • 0 avatar
            dont.fit.in.cars

            Lie

            So, FOX News is your go to source for accurate information then, got it

            Assume much? I Don’t watch Fox, CNN, nor any MSM. One gets more done making better use of ones time.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “One gets more done making better use of ones time.”

            Yup, you’re right. But haven’t you heard about multi-tasking?

            Currently staying in my daughter’s place while stateside and I have three TVs set up in three different rooms, each tuned to a different news/financial station, and they’re all on when I’m awake and at home.

            So, one TV in the Living Room, one TV in the Den/Dining Room/Kitchen, and one TV in in our Master Bedroom/Computer Room/Study.

            Can’t help but pick up something on TV while multi-tasking, doing chores around the house, or commenting on ttac.

            Different strokes for different folks.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I suppose by that standard of “right of center,” the Wall Street Journal is far-left, CNN is communist, and actual left-leaning publications such as the Atlantic have jumped the horseshoe and become far-right.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            “‘So, FOX News is your go to source for accurate information then, got it’

            “I used to avoid FoxNews. Couldn’t stand their hosts interrupting their guests.

            “But it turned out I was wrong. FoxNews has been the consistently highest rated news channel by the NAB and Nielssen [sic] ratings, blowing all others off the air.

            “I still avoid Fox, preferring NewsyTV, Bloomberg, CNBC and WSJ, but facts are facts: FoxNews is the best in the business.

            “And that ain’t me saying that. That’s the industry saying that.”

            By that logic, McDonald’s is a better restaurant than the French Laundry.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          You don’t need toilet paper…just wipe your kiester with your 401k

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Seems spot on.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      SARS was in 2003, the GW Bush admin could do no wrong????

      I thought both liberals and Trumpers hated him.

  • avatar

    So running the numbers from WHO it looks like SARS was alot smaller (8000 cases) but higher mortality rate (10% fatal). H1N1 was a lot bigger (over 60 millon cases) but had a mortality rate similar to the conventional flu (.02%). SO I guess the fear is you have something in between that can result in more total deaths.

  • avatar

    There is nothing wrong with Fox news but I do not watch TV in principle.

    My personal theory which I cherish a lot is that Corona virus 2019 was engineered in Russia to put global economy on its knees. You see Putin put anti globalists like Trump and Johnson into office. He wants to spark nationalist, anti-globalist sentiments in the West. He is not interested in united, peaceful and global world. He also helped Biden to acquire votes because he knows that Biden unlike Bernie has no chance to win elections. He is just too old and boring.

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