It’s quite a landmark day for coronavirus news followers, and who isn’t these days? The US has become the country with the most Covid-19 infections, overtaking both Italy (most deaths so far) and China (where it all started). There are now over 82,000 people in the US with the virus, and the great city of New York is being hit hard.

In all, over half a million known infections have been counted across the globe. Everyone – governments, businesses and the common man – is struggling. The car industry hasn’t been spared, and we’ve wrote about plenty of plant closures to slow the coronavirus tide. But here’s something rather surprising, more so when you consider what’s been on the news today.

Ford has announced that it intends to restart production in North America as early as April 6. According to Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America, the Blue Oval is planning to resume production at Hermosillo Assembly Plant on April 6 on one shift. On April 14, Ford wants to start building vehicles at Dearborn Truck Plant, Kentucky Truck Plant, Kansas City Assembly Plant’s Transit line and the Ohio Assembly Plant.

To support these assembly plants, Ford also is aiming to resume production April 14 at the Dearborn Stamping Plant, Dearborn Diversified Manufacturing Plant, integrated stamping plants within Kansas City and Kentucky Truck plants, Sharonville Transmission Plant, and portions of Van Dyke Transmission, Lima Engine and Rawsonville Components plants.

“We will continue to assess public health conditions as well as supplier readiness and will adjust plans if necessary,” Galhotra said. In the meantime, the company is working with 3M and GE Healthcare to speed up the production of respirators and ventilators needed for the Covid-19 fight.

Last week, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles agreed to shut down their US plants to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The Detroit Big Three did so after bowing to pressure from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union representing about 150,000 hourly workers at the sites. Factories in Canada and Mexico have also been shut. The closures would be until the end of March, the carmakers said then, so April 6 is already an extension.

As for FCA, the latest update is that plants in the US and Canada, as well as HQ operations and construction projects – will remain closed until April 14. This all depends on 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 announced separately. FCA will work with the UAW and Unifor unions to expand the programme of cleaning and social distancing protocols that are already in place.

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