Ford to keep N.A. plants shuttered beyond March 30

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DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday said its North American manufacturing facilities will remain closed beyond March 30, the date it originally planned to restart production, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

The automaker last week, following pressure from the UAW, agreed with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to shutter plants in the U.S., Mexico and Canada for more than a week until March 30. Since that decision, a number of U.S. states where Ford has plants, including Michigan, have issued orders for residents to stay at home unless they work in essential fields.

The automaker did not offer a time frame for when its plants might reopen.

Michigan and at least 15 other U.S. states, along with Ontario, Canada, have instituted stay-at-home orders. In Michigan, the order extends until April 13. 

“We are assessing various options and working with union leaders — including the United Auto Workers and Unifor — on the optimal timing for resuming vehicle production, keeping the well-being of our work force top of mind,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America, said in a statement.

General Motors is standing by its plan to suspend production until at least March 30, spokesman David Barnas said.

“Production status will be reevaluated week to week after that,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the company has not yet made a decision about whether the shutdown would need to be extended past the end of March.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, speaking Tuesday on the “CBS This Morning” show, said the automaker was focused on making sure its workers remain healthy.

“What we’re trying to do is get through this quarantine period where everyone has a job and then, on the other side, quickly rebuild demand,” he said. “We’re working really closely with the UAW and there’s an agreement that when it’s time to go back to work, everyone’s going to go back to work.”

Hackett said he thinks the situation could last into early May.

“We can see what happened in China, we see what happened in South Korea and I’m hopeful we get started before then,” he said. “We’re ready to go.”



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