By on April 24, 2020

You just read how an announcement from the United Auto Workers poured cold water over the Detroit Three’s tentative plans to resume vehicle assembly in the United States, but non-domestic automakers don’t have that problem.

Sure, they still need to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, devising new methods of keeping plant workers safe while carrying out the business of building cars, but early May still looks promising to several large industry players. With U.S. auto sales entering a slow rebound, almost everyone’s itching to get started.

On Thursday, Toyota said that, beginning the week of May 4th, it “intends to gradually resume its North American manufacturing operations in compliance with federal health and safety guidelines, and local and state ordinances where our facilities are located.”

New safety protocols will be in place, Toyota said, as it turns on the lights and “carefully” ramps up production in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada.

Honda’s taking a different approach, deciding yesterday to sit it out for another week. The automaker now saws it will idle production through May 8th, saying it “must continue to take steps that align product supply and business expenses with market demand.” Powersports production in South Carolina will resume on May 4th, however.

In Chattanooga, TN, Volkswagen of America is ready to come back online on May 3rd — a return helped by newly lessened state coronavirus measures.

“We’ve dedicated the past several weeks to implementing stringent health and safety measures,” said plant president Tom du Plessis in a statement. A 90-point list of health measures will greet returning workers.

“After assessing the current situation, we’ve decided to resume production under clear safety measures and with the health of our employees as our highest priority.”

Elsewhere in the industry, Nissan says it won’t resume U.S. production until mid-May, with Hyundai, Kia, and BMW targeting May 4th.

[Image: Toyota]

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4 Comments on “Production Update: Toyota and Volkswagen Ready to Go, Honda Hangs Back...”

  • avatar

    I currently have responsibility for four individuals on this planet. We have been keeping a relatively low profile during the pandemic (lower than some of my immediate neighbors by my observations) – i.e., a dramatically lower number of in-person interactions vs. pre-COVID.

    We will also be taking it slow on returning to ‘normal’ – we will not be early adopters.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe COVID-19 is serious and my family is supporting the countermeasures being taken.

      This historical comparison is interesting (COVID portion keeps growing; updated yesterday):

      Two observations [scroll to the ‘bottom’ portion of the graphic]:
      a) COVID-19 (still growing) eclipses most pandemics of the past 50 years.
      b) If you are feeling sorry for yourself, our ancestors had it a lot worse.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The question for all these non-unionized plants is one they have to ask their lawyers: what’s our legal exposure if one of our workers gets sick and dies? The fact that the governor of the state where the plant is located says it’s o.k. doesn’t relieve the company of its obligation to have a safe workplace.

    Of course, there’s the possibility of some legislative relief . . . but don’t count on that.

  • avatar

    Non-workers of the world, unite!

    “When we talk about this idea of ‘reopening society,’ you know, only in America, does the President, when the President tweets about liberation, does he mean go back to work. When we have this discussion about going back or reopening, I think a lot people should just say ‘no,’ we’re not going back to that. We’re not going back to working 70 hour weeks just so that we can put food on the table and not even feel any sort of semblance of security in our lives.”
    Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, today

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