COVID-19

Here's how each U.S. automaker's plants are responding to the coronavirus outbreak

General Motors, Ford, and FCA plants are among those shut down by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Toyota, Ford, and Nissan, among others, all rely on American labor to manufacture and assemble their vehicles for sale in the U.S. The list of automakers effected by the COVID-19 pandemic is all-encompassing. Below, AutomotiveMap rounds up how each company is responding.

BMW

BMW Plant Spartanburg South Carolina

Photo courtesy of BMW

UPDATE: The plant is now closed through April 30.

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UPDATE: BMW's Spartanburg plant is closed through April 12.

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According to reporting by the Greenville News, production at BMW Upstate has not been effected by the coronavirus outbreak as of the afternoon of Wednesday, March 18.

FCA

Toledo Assembly Complex Jeep Wrangler

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

UPDATE: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on April 6 said it is extending its manufacturing shutdown in the United States and Canada until May 4

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UPDATE: According to a release, "FCA plants across the U.S. and Canada, as well as headquarters operations and construction projects, are intended to remain closed until April 14, dependent upon the various states' stay-in-place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production. The Mopar Parts Distribution Centers, which have been deemed essential to keeping first responders and commercial vehicles on the road, will continue to operate with paid volunteers. The status of production for FCA's Mexico operations will be subject to a separate announcement."

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FCA began to cease production at their plants across North America, starting March 18 - a move that will continue through the end of March. At the end of the month, FCA will work to enhance its manufacturing operations to facilitate the changes agreed with the UAW including shift timings, structures and enhanced cleaning protocols.

FCA has 27 plants across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Ford

Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

UPDATE: On March 31, Ford announced new plans for the reopening of facilities. All but one of its North American plants will remain closed until further notice. Rawsonville Components Plant will restart the week of April 20 to produce the Model A-E ventilator, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, supported by paid volunteer UAW workers.

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UPDATE: On March 26, Ford announced that they are aiming to restart production at select plants in North America as early as April 6. Ford is planning to resume production at Hermosillo Assembly Plant on April 6 on one shift. On April 14, Ford is planning to start building vehicles at Dearborn Truck Plant, Kentucky Truck Plant, Kansas City Assembly Plant's Transit line and Ohio Assembly Plant.

To support these assembly plants, Ford also is aiming to resume production April 14 at:

  • Dearborn Stamping Plant
  • Dearborn Diversified Manufacturing Plant
  • Integrated stamping plants within Kansas City and Kentucky Truck plants
  • Sharonville Transmission Plant
  • Portions of Van Dyke Transmission, Lima Engine and Rawsonville Components plants

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Production at Ford's U.S., Canadian and Mexican plants will be halted after March 19's evening shifts to through March 30 to thoroughly clean and sanitize the facilities.

Ford temporarily closed Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) final assembly building yesterday after an employee tested positive for Covid-19 and is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building, as promised as part of the company's coronavirus emergency response protocol. That plant will close starting the evening of March 19 through March 30.

General Motors

Detroit-Hamtramck Plant Last Impala

Photo courtesy of General Motors

On March 18, General Motors began what they're calling a "systematic orderly suspension" of manufacturing operations in North America. The suspension will last until at least March 30. Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that.

General Motors has 32 plants in North America.

Honda

Marysville Auto Plant Honda

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

UPDATE: Honda Motor Co on April 7 said that it had furloughed workers at its U.S. plants, which will be closed until May 1. They are set to resume production May 4.

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UPDATE: On April 2, Honda announced that they have extended the production suspension previously announced for all of its automobile, engine and transmission plants in the U.S. and Canada through April 10.

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On March 18, Honda announced that it would adjust production at all of its automobile production plants in North America, including the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Those plants include:

  • Performance Manufacturing Center (Ohio)
  • Marysville Auto Plant (Ohio)
  • East Liberty Auto Plant (Ohio)
  • Honda Manufacturing of Indiana (Indiana)
  • Honda Manufacturing of Alabama(Alabama)
  • Honda of Canada Manufacturing – Plants 1 & 2
  • Honda de Mexico – Celaya Auto Plant

Honda will suspend production for six days beginning March 23, with current plans to return to production on Tuesday, March 31. Honda transmission and engine plants in North America that serve Honda auto plants also will suspend production for the same time period. Honda will reduce production by approximately 40,000 vehicles during that time.

During this time, Honda will continue full pay for all of its approximately 27,600 associates in North America.

Additionally, Honda will utilize this time to deep clean its production facilities and common areas.

Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

UPDATE: Hyundai is planning to resume work on May 4.

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UPDATE: Hyundai has extended the suspension of production until April 10. The company's approximately 3,000 team members will continue to be compensated until April 3, 2020. From April 6 through April 9, team members can choose to use vacation time for compensation; Good Friday, April 10, is a paid holiday. During this shutdown period, approximately one hundred team members will continue to be on site each day to support essential functions

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Hyundai has taken numerous steps to protect their employees during the pandemic. The company is increasing the frequency of cleaning in high-touch areas like door knobs/handles, elevator buttons, and counter tops. They're restricting visitors at Hyundai facilities and have suspended training sessions at all Hyundai Training Centers.

At Hyundai Motor Manufacturing (HMMA) in Alabama, one of the members of its workforce tested positive for Covid-19 on March 18. All team members were notified of the situation.

Beginning March 18, Hyundai suspended production in all areas of HMMA and deployed sanitation measures across the entire facility.

HMMA has also suspended public tours.

Kia

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

UPDATE: KMMG is aiming to reopen on April 27.

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UPDATE: According to a release, "Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) will suspend production at its West Point, Ga. facility effective Monday, March 30. Operations will be halted for two weeks, including a previously planned shutdown April 6-10 for new model equipment changes. Production is planned to resume on Monday, April 13."

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The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) will stop production for two days, resuming on March 23, in reaction to supply chain issues.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

UPDATE: On April 3, Mercedes-Benz announced that MBUSI now plans to restart on April 13th.

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The German automaker has not announced any closures or production slowdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic at its Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as of the afternoon of March 19.

Nissan

Nissan Canton Assembly Plant

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

UPDATE: In North America, Nissan is planning on reopening in mid-May.

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UPDATE: Nissan has extended its shutdown until "late April".

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Nissan has announced that it will temporarily suspend production of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. from March 20 to April 6. According to a statement, "Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus at any Nissan facility. Areas deemed business-essential will operate with enhanced safety measures."

Subaru

Subaru of American Inc.

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

UPDATE: Subaru aims to restart production May 8.

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UPDATE: SIA has extended its shutdown through Friday, April 17. Only limited personnel will be working on-site during this time.

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Workers at Subaru of Indiana Automotive continue to work but non-essential visitors are banned in response to the outbreak. The plant will fully close on March 23 and remain closed through at least March 29.

Tesla

Tesla Fremont Factory

Photo courtesy of Tesla

After initially protesting and taking a stand against the government-enforced shutdown of its Fremont manufacturing plant, Tesla appears to have acquiesced.

According to USA Today, "On Tuesday, the auto maker's factory in Fremont, California, was declared a "nonessential business" after Alameda County enacted a shelter-in-place order, which could have led to a complete shutdown. NBC Bay Area reports the factory will remain open with a smaller workforce for 'minimum basic operations.'"

Toyota

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

UPDATE: On April 7, Toyota announced that all U.S. production operations will be closed until May 1.

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UPDATE: The manufacturing facilities will remain closed through April 17, resuming production on April 20.

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Toyota has temporarily suspended production at all of its automobile and components plants in North America, including Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The manufacturing facilities will be closed from March 23-24, resuming production on March 25, 2020. The company's service parts depots and vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Chattanooga plant

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

UPDATE: Volkswagen plans to restart its plants on May 3.

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UPDATE: Volkswagen of America said on April 9 that it will furlough production and maintenance workers at at its Chattanooga plant starting April 11. The company is expecting the furloughs to last no more than four weeks.

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UPDATE: The automaker is planning to resume production Sunday, April 12 at 10 p.m.

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VW's Chattanooga production facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee has announced that it will close starting March 21. All workers will receive full pay during the shutdown.

Volvo

Volvo plant operation

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

UPDATE: Volvo intends to restart operations at its South Carolina plant on May 4.

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Volvo has announced that it will idle its South Carolina plant from March 26 to April 14. This news comes on the heels of an announcement that all the company's China plants are back open.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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Frightening security

Boston Dynamics' robot to patrol Kia factory

The robot is being tested as a security patrol unit.

Hyundai

Breaking into an auto manufacturing facility was already a very bad idea, but new security tech being tested by Hyundai Motor Group makes it downright terrifying as well. In addition to cameras, sensors, and armed security guards, would-be burglars at a Kia plant in South Korea now have to face off with a semi-autonomous robot dog.

The Boston Dynamics quadruped robot, named Spot, is being tested as a safer and more effective way of providing security patrols to the plant. The dog is one of several robots designed and tested by the firm, which has long terrified the internet with its physically capable electronic beings.

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot The robot uses various sensors to detect danger and intruders.Hyundai

If you haven't seen it, the Boston Dynamics robot dog is frightening enough on its own, so it's an excellent choice to provide factory security. The robot uses an integrated thermal camera and 3D LiDAR to detect people around it, and can monitor high-temperature situations and fire hazards. It can be controlled remotely through a secure webpage, which allows personnel to see what's going on in the factory without putting themselves in danger.

The robot is capable of navigating tight spaces and can identify issues not visible to the human eye. It's also able to semi-autonomously navigate its environment, and has been developed with task management and deep learning-based vision technology. Boston Dynamics says that its tech can be expanded to other types of robot platforms.



The robot dog is currently in the pilot stage at Kia's plant in South Korea. It will be used to support late-night security patrols and increase safety for workers. Hyundai Motor Group will assess the robot's effectiveness and suitability for the job before expanding its use in other industrial sites.

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