FCA Closes Italian Facilities Over Coronavirus, Ditto for Autotorino Dealer Group

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
fca closes italian facilities over coronavirus ditto for autotorino dealer group

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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  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Mar 12, 2020

    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.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Mar 12, 2020

    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.

  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.
  • HunterS This thing has had more farewell tours than Cher.