Honda, Fiat Chrysler aim to restart Canada and US auto production in May

2018 Honda Odyssey

Honda Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV stated on Monday they hope to resume U.S. and Canadian auto production in May, which has been closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese automaker stopped production on March 23 and said it will extend the stop through May 1.

Fiat Chrysler stated it aims “to progressively restart its U.S. and Canadian manufacturing facilities beginning May 4”.

U.S. President Donald Trump in the previous week extended the guidelines aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus to April 30.

Several U.S. auto industry executives informed Reuters on Monday it will be almost impossible for companies to restart production before the end of the month — and there is no assurance automakers will be able to restart production in early May. Other automakers prepare to extend current production halts later this week, automakers informed Reuters.

It will also take auto suppliers time to restart production. In an internal estimate, Ford Motor stated last week it believed 600,000 U.S. industry auto sales may have been lost in March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Honda noted many costumers are unable to buy vehicles and said it “must continue to suspend production in order to align product supply with a lack of market demand”. Some states have blocked car dealers from selling new cars while “stay at home” exists.

Last week, Nissan Motor stated it would extend its U.S. production halt into late April. Toyota Motor has stopped U.S. and Canadian production through April 17.

Ford stated last week it was postponing its plan to resume production at its North America. Ford had been intending to resume production at several key U.S. plants on April 14, but then stated it would now do so at dates to be announced later. Ford stated Monday it is continuing to evaluate public health conditions, government guidelines and supplier readiness to figure out when the time is right to restart production in North American plants.

General Motors has closed its plants indefinitely and has not given a date for vehicle production to resume plants.

Automakers are working on further employee protections to add when they resume, including new personal protective gear, staggering shift starts, more frequent cleanings and new social distancing regulations.

Fiat Chrysler stated it will renovate work stations to maintain proper social distancing and increasing the already extensive cleaning protocols at all locations.

About 422,350 people in the US have been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus. The virus has killed 14,257 people in the country.

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