Volkswagen, Toyota delay U.S. production restart, citing supplier concerns

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana

Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor stated on Wednesday they will delay resuming U.S. production amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns regarding the automotive supply network.

VW stated it is indefinitely postponing the resumption of production at its Tennessee assembly plant that had been set to resume on May 3.

Toyota stated it will postpone the resumption of North American manufacturing operations to the week of May 11 from the week of May 4 following an “extensive review with our supplier and logistics network”.

The German automaker stated that before it sets a new date it “will weigh the readiness of the supplier base, along with market demand and the status of the COVID-19 outbreak”. VW’s American production has been suspended since March 21.

Automakers had hoped to restart production in early May but face hurdles including orders in major states such as Michigan which limit non-essential business operations.

Germany’s BMW AG stated on Wednesday that it prepares to resume work at its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant on Monday at about half the plant’s capacity and then carefully increase production.

Detroit’s Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, are still in talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union on the conditions required to restart production, but the companies not appear likely to restart U.S. production before May 18 at the earliest.

UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg stated the union is still having “discussions about key health and safety issues and science that need to be in place for a restart”.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has not set a date for resuming manufacturing yet, and the UAW, which represents many hourly auto workers in Michigan and other states, has stated that early May is “too soon and too risky” to resume.

About 1,064,353 people in the US have been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus. The virus has killed 61,504 people in the country.

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