With reports of factory shutdowns now being the norm, Volkswagen and Toyota have predictably decided to idle facilities in Europe to mitigate the negative influence of the novel coronavirus. VW Group had already made plans to temporarily close assembly lines in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. But said that the entirety of Europe will probably be affected this month.
Toyota was singing a similar song on Tuesday morning, saying it would suspend production in France and Portugal this week. Considering the sameness of these virus-related cancelations, we’ll not bore you with any recaps — you know how we got here. Instead, here’s the gist of the manufacturers’ respective strategies:
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.
Jaguar Land Rover has decided to stall production at two of its British factories for several weeks. Starting in late February, JLR intends to stop work at both its Castle Bromwich Assembly and Solihull plants until the end of March. The factories won’t be totally inactive for the duration; the manufacturer claims there will be half days intermixed with full-day closures.
Unlike the bulk of plant idlings taking place across the globe (though mostly in China), this has nothing to do with the coronavirus. While the outbreak has begun disrupting supply chains as the PRC attempts to keep the illness in check by barring people inside their homes, JLR said it’s stalling UK production to address falling demand and Brexit complications — the latter of which is beginning to feel like a lame excuse.
Despite a year-over-year sales drop in the fourth quarter of 2018, a higher average transaction price spurred by growth in high-margin vehicle sales in North America returned better than expected Q4 earnings for General Motors.
The company’s strong showing comes as its overseas ventures sank and headwinds gathered at home and abroad; mainly, predictions of a slower 2019. That’s GM’s outlook, too, which explains why CEO Mary Barra isn’t backpedaling on her plan to shutter five North American plants.
Shortly after General Motors announced its decision to end assembly work at two car-producing U.S. plants, Tesla CEO Elon Musk floated the possibility of a Silicon Valley rescue of either Detroit-Hamtramck or Lordstown Assembly.
Talks between GM and Tesla did occur, it turns out, but GM CEO Mary Barra doesn’t seem to think much of the chances of laid-off employees finding salvation in a Tesla intervention.
The faint hope that existed at the end of 2018 in regards to General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant no longer exists, except maybe in the minds of the most optimistic of union brass. On Tuesday, the automaker told Unifor, the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, that its proposals to save the country’s oldest auto plant weren’t feasible.
GM laid out its reasoning in a letter to Unifor President Jerry Dias. As before, it all came down to cost … and the public’s dislike of cars.
Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly plant once cranked out Pontiac Vibes and Toyota Matrixes under a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, but could a current GM factory one day give way to Tesla production?
Tesla CEO Elon Musk put that possibility out there during a 60 Minutes interview on the weekend. As one might expect, Musk’s comments were greeted with skepticism.
Take the Cash, Hit the Bricks: Nearly 2,500 Korean Workers Opt for GM's Voluntary Redundancy Package
Union officials have stated that roughly 2,500 workers from General Motors’ South Korean unit have applied for a redundancy package offered as part of the automaker’s comprehensive restructuring of the region. The number represents around 15 percent of total GM staff in the area and should make negotiations with one of the most inflexible workers’ unions on the planet that much easier.
Still, what General Motors plans to do with its remaining South Korean factories is unknown, but it has already announced one closure. This has left many wondering if the automaker will abandon production in the country entirely. Fortunately, the Korean workforce has not responded with violence. In fact, many appear to see the writing on the wall, opting to take a buyout rather than cause a fuss during the restructuring.
General Motors Canada will idle a pair of Ontario factories longer than usual this summer as it struggles with lagging demand. If that sounds familiar, it’s because GM has taken the exact same approach with two factories in the United States.
On Monday, the automaker confirmed it will also be eliminating the overnight shift for Chevrolet Malibu production at its assembly plant in Kansas City. That follows a trio of shift eliminations at three plants in Michigan and one in Ohio since the beginning of the year. It appears that Canadian jobs could now be in danger.
Remember when we said all was well for Ford Otosan regarding recent industrial actions? It’s no longer the case, as one plant ceases production once more.
“Toyota is considering halting production at its factory at Burnaston, near Derby, because of collapsing sales amid the car company’s recall crisis,” London’s Times reports.
This comes on the heels of reported plans to shut two down two plants in the United States for a total of 14 days. According to the Times, Toyota is “reviewing production at its European factories.”
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- Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.