Here’s another coronavirus-linked disruption to the auto industry, but it’s unsurprising considering the country in concern. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is temporarily halting operations at some plants in Italy and will reduce production rates in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

FCA said in a statement that it had stepped up measures across its facilities, including intensive sanitisation of all work and rest areas, to support the Italian government’s directives to curb the spread of the infectious disease. “As a result of taking these actions the company will, where necessary, make temporary closures of its plants across Italy,” it said.

An FCA spokesman said affected Italian plants were Pomigliano, Melfi, Atessa and Cassino, each of them halted for two or three days between Wednesday and Saturday.

The Italian-American carmaker said that to allow for greater spacing of employees at their workstations, “daily production rates will be lowered to accommodate the adapted manufacturing processes”.

However, a source close to the matter told the newswire that FCA did not expect an impact on overall production rates. The person added that the temporary closures are not linked to disruptions of auto parts supplies following virus combating measures imposed on the entire country now, and not just northern Italy, the European epicentre of Covid-19.

The coronavirus is wrecking havoc across the globe now, and it’s no longer just a China + neighbours problem. The virus, which causes respiratory problems, is spreading fast in Europe and even the US. The car world has not been spared. Big annual motor shows have been cancelled (Geneva) and postponed (New York, Beijing), while parts supply issues are affecting carmakers everywhere from South Korea to India. If it’s not directly caused by coronavirus, it’s the lack of demand for cars from a weak economy, which the virus is exacerbating. Let’s all hope that this wave won’t stay for too long.

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