Europe’s auto industry shuts factories, cuts output as coronavirus hits
Europe’s major car and parts makers rushed on Wednesday to close factories and cut output in Italy and considered sending workers home elsewhere, in the first signs that coronavirus is disrupting the region’s struggling automotive industry.
Fiat Chrysler said it was temporarily halting operations at some of its Italian factories and would reduce production in response to Europe’s largest coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reads.
The Italian American carmaker has stepped up measures across its facilities, including intensive cleaning of all work and rest areas, to support the government’s directives to curb the spread of the infectious disease.
Italian tiremaker Pirelli said it was cutting production for several days at its Settimo Torinese plant in northern Italy after a worker tested positive for the virus.
Italy is the worst-affected country in the world after China and the unprecedented lockdown of the country has heaped fresh pressure on the region’s ailing car sector.
Other companies including Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover and Peugeot owner PSA were also scrambling to deal with infections among staff, highlighting the risks to business beyond supply chains and Italy’s borders.
The French carmaker was beefing up safety rules on Wednesday at its Mulhouse plant with a 5,000-strong workforce in eastern France after one employee tested positive, a spokeswoman said. The man has been on sick leave since Feb. 29.
The actions come as Seat, the Spanish unit of German carmaker Volkswagen, was considering sending staff home temporarily from its Barcelona-area plant due to issues with supplies.
“The Martorell plant is currently working normally. However, there are several risks derived from COVID-19, which has affected the supply chain,” a Seat spokesman said.