Detroit’s big three have agreed to shut down their US plants to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles did so after bowing to pressure from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union representing about 150,000 hourly workers at the sites, Reuters reported. Factories in Canada and Mexico will also be shut.

The shares of all three companies took a beating after the announcement. The American plants involved churn out big sellers such FCA’s Jeep Wrangler, GM’s Chevrolet Silverado truck and Ford’s perennial sales champion, the F-Series truck.

While it sounds like a normal thing to do when Covid-19 is spreading fast across the globe, this latest development actually came less than a day after the carmakers and the UAW agreed to keep plants running with reduced shifts and staffing, with more time allowed for cleaning.

However, that deal was swept aside on Wednesday morning after Honda said it would shut its North American factories for six days because of a fall in demand, and a Ford assembly plant worker in Michigan tested positive for the virus. The Blue Oval then closed the final assembly building responsible for the Ranger pick-up truck and upcoming Bronco SUV. The Detroit three’s plant closures will be till the end of March.

Elsewhere, Nissan said that it will stop US production until April 6, Hyundai will close its Alabama factory for an indefinite period after a worker there tested positive for Covid-19, and Toyota said it would close its North American plants for two days next week.

“Recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. The company said that Barra spoke with US government officials about the GM supporting production of medical equipment such as ventilators, which aid breathing in severe Covid-19 cases.

As of this evening Malaysian time, US coronavirus cases have passed 13,000 with at least 195 deaths.

Tags: