By on March 20, 2020

As we enter the Friday of a very eventful week, U.S. auto production is barely hanging on. The past few days have seen manufacturers both domestic and foreign announce temporary production shutdowns amid the coronavirus emergency.

It begs the question: who’s left?

Strike the Detroit Three from that list. Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler have all announced they’ll go dark for a tentative length of time. Honda was quick out of the gate in proclaiming a ceasing of production at its four U.S. plants. Then came Hyundai, after a worker in Alabama came down with COVID-19. Sister division Kia Motors quickly announced a shutdown of its Georgia operations, but only for a period of two days.

After wrangling with county, state, and federal officials, Tesla Motors finally agreed to suspend work at its Fremont, California assembly plant on Thursday.

Toyota Motor North America says it will end production at all North American plants beginning Monday, March 23, with the idle period lasting “at least” until April 5th. Subaru, with its lone Indiana assembly plant, plans to go dark on the 23rd as well, returning a week later. Nissan will be offline in the country from March 20th to April 6th.

Health concerns and supply chain disruptions aren’t the sole domain of domestic and Japanese manufacturers, either. Volvo Cars has announced a shutdown of its South Caroline assembly plant starting March 23rd, with the idle period lasting until April 14th.  Thursday brought news that Volkswagen of America will shut down its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant on Saturday, “with current plans to resume production Sunday, March 29 at 10 p.m.”

“This action is being taken to help ensure the health and safety of our team members as we conduct additional sanitation and cleaning procedures throughout the factory,” said plant CEO Tom du Plessis in a statement. “We will also use this time to assess future production plans and market developments.”

Time will tell if any of these return dates prove accurate.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz feels time’s running out for production at its Alabama plant. In a memo to workers obtained by Bloomberg, plant CEO Michael Goebel said supply chain disruptions are only getting worse, putting the plant at risk of a shutdown. Already, Mercedes-Benz has cut overtime and reduced shifts to compensate for the decreased supply.

“It is not clear yet exactly how our supply chain will be impacted, but it is foreseeable it will be difficult to get parts we need in the near future,” Goebel wrote.

That leaves BMW as the sole mainstream automaker not talking about shutting down. The German automaker’s South Carolina plant continues pumping out cars, with a company spokesperson telling Greenville Online that thus far, the plant has avoided disruption. Enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures have already been put in place, the company said.

[Image: Toyota]

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36 Comments on “The List of Automakers Not Shutting Down Is a Short One...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Social distancing” seems impossible in a car plant.

    Still, one diagnosed worker and the plant goes dark. They should all pause.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Here is a prediction: the deaths of Americans caused by the corona virus will be dwarfed by the suicides committed by people whose life’s savings have been wiped out, whose businesses have been bankrupted, whose jobs have been lost, and whose prospects have been blighted by the insane overreaction we now see from our governments. That overreaction must stop. Right now. Before it is too late, if it is not too late already.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      there was no spike in suicides from 2007-2010, why are you insistent there’ll be one now?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The suicide rate didn’t spike in ’07-’10 but it has gone up 33% since 1999 and claims about 48,000 lives every year.

        usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/30/u-s-suicide-rate
        -rose-again-2018-how-can-suicide-prevention-save-lives/4616479002/

        I don’t think there is any mental health professional that will say that the virus lockdowns and job losses aren’t going to be an issue for people’s mental health. Granted, I also don’t think any would say that millions of deaths from a pandemic wouldn’t be very harmful to mental stability either.

        Which why we need to very quickly start working towards anything that makes our choice something beyond long-term lockdowns vs massive deathtoll.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its overall economic health. Even America’s resources to fight a viral plague aren’t limitless—and they will become more limited by the day as individuals lose jobs, businesses close, and American prosperity gives way to poverty. America urgently needs a pandemic strategy that is more economically and socially sustainable than the current national lockdown.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/rethinking-the-coronavirus-shutdown-11584659154

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It’s easy to bemoan the fiscal impact of the virus, which is very real, but what would the economic impact of this virus be if it’s allowed to spread unchecked?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Letting millions of peoples die of a virus isn’t a solution but locking people down for an unknown amount of time and (maybe) give them $1000 checks each month is also not a solution. There are plenty of psychological articles about the impacts of depression, stress, and isolation. Eventually people are going to snap.

        There is a balance between “spread unchecked” and “under government penalty don’t leave your dwelling unless it is an every 10 day trip to buy groceries”. That is the balance that needs to be found. Right now I’m concerned that the governments of the world don’t seem to have any gameplan beside lock it down.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “There is a balance between “spread unchecked” and “under government penalty don’t leave your dwelling unless it is an every 10 day trip to buy groceries”. That is the balance that needs to be found.”

          true. unfortunately nobody knows where that balance is (least of all anyone here) so you can’t just say “do something different.”

          today Italy added 627 deaths to their toll, which means they now have lost more people to this than China has.

          *That* is the price of under-reaction.

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            @JimZ

            1) demographically Italy is second only to the Japanese in % of elderly
            2) it is quite humane that multigenerational living in Italy is common – unlike the US where we prefer to warehouse the elderly – but that sadly works to their detriment for this disease
            3) their government is a shambolic horror-show
            4) they signed on to Chinese One Belt One Road where upwards of 300,000 Chinese workers came to work on infrastructure – what are the odds not one of them had the WuFlu? This may be Italy’s biggest blunder

            Do something different compared to Italy? I certainly hope so. Lock down hospitals and nursing homes – definitely. Shut down CA and NY statewide – dramatic but extreme – and properly decided by the states.

            Meanwhile, in a SW Florida county with similar % of elderly compared to Italy, I await the drone delivery of my government toilet paper ration. Also, morning count of WuFlu positives – one, still alive.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Understood, but keep in mind it isn’t just about who is more likely to die from this. It’s overloading of ERs and ICUs trying to care for serious/critical cases of this. ER/ICU beds filled with someone with COVID-19 are beds that can’t be used for someone else who needs critical care.

            all of the hand-wringing is 100% about trying not to overload hospitals as much as possible.

            “Also, morning count of WuFlu positives – one, still alive.”

            the world is much bigger than your one little county.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @ajla: you’re right, no one seems to have a gameplan aside from locking things down to the extent possible, but what other game plan is there, really?

          The only way to keep this virus from spreading is to keep people from spreading it, and that means keeping them apart. That’s about all I can come up with…if you have a different idea, I’m all ears, you know?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Putting any open manufacturing capacity towards increasing PPE and medical supplies is my first thought (like 24/7 around the clock start doing it today). Putting clinical test together immediately on any hopeful treatments is my second.

            Even ignoring the large economic impact of it, lockdowns throughout several months just aren’t going work. What happens if someone’s AC breaks as the temperatures are increasing? What happens when there is a hurricane or wildfire and people need to evacuate or take shelter? I’m on a well and well and septic system. If one of those breaks what am I supposed to do when everything is ordered closed?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Those two suggestions are good, but both are meant to deal with the effects of the virus, versus preventing its’ spread.

            As far as the what-ifs you’re talking about are concerned, I agree they’re valid, but this is a pretty unprecedented situation, and as people work through it, I’m sure adjustments can be made. New rules will have to be figured out, and I’m sure they will be.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “If one of those breaks what am I supposed to do when everything is ordered closed?”

            I don’t think anyone is seriously proposing shutting *everything* down like that. What’s been shut down are places where lots of people gather, so that one sick person doesn’t infect a few hundred more. Even in “shelter in place” areas like the Bay Area, grocery stores, hardware stores are still open and police/fire and utility & repair workers are still on the job.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “hardware stores are still open and police/fire and utility & repair workers are still on the job.”

            That’s good. When I looked at the Pennsylvania order yesterday I didn’t see anything related to HVAC or plumbing on their “essential” list which caused a minor freakout for me. But I might have missed it.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “versus preventing its’ spread”

            PPE can help stop the spread of the virus.

            twitter.com/ScottGottliebMD/status/1240240377052958720

            Most of the early recommendations on not using masks (which in hindsight may have been bad advice) had to do with anticipated misuse of the masks not the ineffectiveness of them against the disease.

            Granted, we don’t even have enough masks for doctors right now. But that’s why need to start making things like this around the clock immediately. People are more willing to stay put if there is light at the end of the tunnel, but no strategy and little hope won’t go far.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Some people would see a silver lining if a million people died, since they no longer need to be fed.

        A million deaths in the US is a feasible outcome.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          “Some people would see a silver lining if a million people died, since they no longer need to be fed.”

          –I think we should all take a moment to breathe deeply and reconsider. To assert any human being views a million deaths as anything but a tragedy is NOT what we want to be thinking.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          These are all arguments about reducing harm to the population, including deaths. Our disagreement is over how to do that. That is what “the cure is worse than the disease” means. In this case, the economic harm from the overreaction and the panic it has caused is going to prove far worse than the effects of the disease we are fighting.

          Focusing our efforts on the vulnerable population and their caregivers without crippling our economy in the process is a more compassionate strategy. The economic impact of the current reaction is going to destroy people and create misery, crime, suicide, drug addiction, dependency and death.

          No one I have seen has advocated for a policy designed to promote death or disregard deadly consequences. Everyone I have heard is trying to figure ways to save lives and protect people. I have said that destroying the economy is not a wise strategy. That is what the WSJ opinion writer is saying as well.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @thelain

            If you want to limit the economic impact of the virus, then you have one option: limit its’ spread. There’s only one way to do that: keep people apart. And that is the basis of all the economic problems you’re rightly concerned with.

            Now, if you have ideas on how to limit the spread of the virus without distancing people, I’d sincerely like to know.

            Otherwise, what we’re looking at here is just mitigating the economic problems that distancing causes…the alternative, which is to just let the virus run wild, is going to cause more deaths. How is that economically beneficial?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Otherwise, what we’re looking at here is just mitigating the economic problems that distancing causes…the alternative, which is to just let the virus run wild, is going to cause more deaths. How is that economically beneficial?”

            I’m pretty sure he steadfastly believes (or wants to believe) that won’t happen, that this virus is nothing more than another flu, and it’ll all blow over.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’d like to hear his ideas on how to keep the virus from spreading, while avoiding all the economic issues we’re seeing now, which all revolve around keeping it from spreading.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            I would do what I have suggested repeatedly. I would do what we do every flu season. We are spending billions trying to mitigate the economic damage and there will be hundreds of billions more. We could instead use a fraction of this money to protect and care for the vulnerable populations and their caregivers. There is nothing new here. This virus is much less deadly than the average flu. We don’t need to bring down the economy trying to stop the spread in healthy populations. Normal flu season precautions are warranted. The flu kills tens of thousands in this country every year. We do not crush our economy in order to stop it. We are doing far more damage than we are preventing, including killing people. Stay tuned. You will see. Your point of view is the prevailing one. I think it is catastrophically wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “I would do what I have suggested repeatedly. I would do what we do every flu season.”

            except- as has been explained to you ad nauseum- we have a vaccine for the flu, and we DO spend a lot of time and resources fighting it. And- as has also been explained to you multiple times- this is not a flu virus, we have no vaccine for it, and it spreads much more rapidly than any of the actual influenza viruses. researchers were initially taken aback at just how rapidly this thing makes copies of itself in an infected person’s tissues.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        yeah, this. The downside if all this is an overreaction is we’re in an economic mess for a while, but it would recover. The downside of us not taking the virus seriously is CATASTROPHIC.

        I’m getting tired of thelaine’s whining and FUD about “but… but… it’s not that bad and we’re tanking the economy.”

        I’d bet his tune changes pretty quickly once he ends up in the hallway of a hospital praying a ventilator becomes available soon…

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Most of this pain is self-inflicted and unnecessary. We can fight the virus without killing our economy. Please take a look at this opinion by Dr. David Katz in the New York Times. Dr. Katz is the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing.html

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Risk managers should have done the obvious with limited hazard reduction means: allocate all resources and energy towards building firewalls to protect the vulnerable in hospitals and nursing homes while leaving the rest of society to manage the risks of the present outbreak via self-isolation and according to their situations, capacities and resourcefulness. Instead everyone is mixed into the same viral soup. The strong (but nervous) are clogging up the hospital emergency waiting rooms while the elderly and at risk ride the buses. And where there are quarantines, the strong and the infirm share the same air. The Yokohama-quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship debacle will serve as a good case study where, in a stumbling precautionary world, the risk management profession was non-existent.

    https://science20.org/david-zaruk/20200320/coronavirus-shows-our-reliance-precautionary-principle-has-ruined-our-ability?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The first real bad U.S. economic data from the coronavirus outbreak was released on Thursday, as initial jobless claims surged 70,000 to 281,000, the highest level in 2.5 years.

    But that is not anything compared with what is in store.

    David Choi, an economist from Goldman Sachs, says initial claims for the week ending March 21 may jump to a seasonally adjusted 2.25 million. His analysis is based on recent anecdotes from press reports as well as company announcements. Over 30 states have provided preliminary data.

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-may-reach-225-million-goldman-sachs-economist-estimates-2020-03-20

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Parking this here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Graham%27s_Hierarchy_of_Disagreement.svg

    Try to aim for the top three levels.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The panic created by this hysterical overreaction is hurting efforts to protect the vulnerable. Hospitals are overwhelmed with people who should not be there. See the Science article above.

    Care facilities are also being negatively impacted by the restrictions. They need help. These are the people who should be targeted.

    https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-assisted-living-residents-may-see-lapses/

    The damage from this reactionary panic is just beginning to pile up. We need to lift these economic barriers immediately and let people go to work.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Read a twitter feed by a long haul trucker. Summary – here we are busting our asses to keep you fed and your businesses supplied and we are treated like lepers. A PA driver, for a while he wasn’t even able to pull into a rest stop just to park, let alone take a bio break. Fast food was unobtainable, can’t go inside, can’t drive a tractor thru and walkups to the window verboten.
    Maybe this would work better if our ruling class were not so detached fron everyday reality.

  • avatar

    So my impression from article is that the Germans are not taking it very seriously. And why should they – workers are not Germans.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    If the government wanted to sit on its hands and do nothing, about 80% of the population would need a natural immunity (survive an infection). 80% herd immunity would allow for 20% of the population with no immunity wandering around with a extremely low probability of infection.

    To get to that level of herd immunity would likely kill 2-3 million from Coronavirus plus an unknown number of deaths from the direct impact to the healthcare system.

    My construction crew leader and crew are very smart. A week ago at our crew meeting we talked through risk to them. They admitted they’re a tight crew and if one gets sick, they all could get sick therefore they adopted measures with family & elderly parents to limit vectors.

    They are well separated on a secure job site, they travel in separate vehicles, they keep hand-sanitizer close at hand, jobber deliveries are at a well separated distance, job site bathrooms are either limited use/cleaned regularly or locked, They are limiting personal travel at home evenings & weekends as we all are voluntarily sheltering in place.

    I watched Contagion again. Coronavirus won’t be the last virus to impact us. We change how we adapt (rapid screening, vaccine development) and we buy some time through social distancing . I’m unwilling to piss and moan and throw up my hands and whine. The Fed Gov needs focus: Need masks, gowns, ventilators? Order them made. Now. You Libertarians can go to the back of the line.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Proposed QOTD: Outside-the-box ideas for how the automotive industry could pitch in with the COVID-19 crisis.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Good job answering the question of which automakers are still producing.

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