Ford has joined other vehicle manufacturers in Europe and decided to suspend operations at its European manufacturing plants in response to the deepening COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
It said that effective from Thursday, March 19, the suspension ‘will continue for a number of weeks’.
The Ford vehicle manufacturing sites in Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany, together with the Craiova facility in Romania, will temporarily halt production from Thursday, March 19. Ford’s Valencia assembly and engine facility in Spain already temporarily halted production from Monday, March 16, after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus over the past weekend. Only essential work, such as maintenance and security, will continue onsite.
The action follows the World Health Organization’s designation of Europe as the new epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic with the number of reported cases growing significantly in recent days and expected to continue to rise rapidly. Ford’s decision to temporarily halt production also will contribute towards the efforts to contain the virus spread, the company said.
“While the impact of coronavirus at our facilities so far has been limited thankfully, its effects on our employees, dealers, suppliers and customers, as well as European society as a whole, is unprecedented,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “Due to the dramatic impact this ongoing crisis is having on the European market and the supplier industry – together with the recent actions by countries to restrict all but essential travel and personal contact – we are temporarily halting production at our main continental Europe manufacturing sites.”
Ford said component supplies to Ford manufacturing sites in Europe have been increasingly interrupted, while sales of vehicles across the industry have declined with dealerships required to temporarily close their sales operations in some countries. However, the servicing of vehicles is regarded as an important societal need and Ford dealerships are continuing to provide essential maintenance and service across the continent.
Ford said impacted employees in Europe are being contacted by their supervisors with more information about their specific site details.
Ford said that while it is hoped this action will only be required for a short period, the exact duration depends on a number of factors. These include the spread of the coronavirus; national government and European Union restrictions on movement, including across borders; the supplier industry’s ability to supply components; and the return of customers to dealerships, many of which are now closed as part of the measures taken at a national level.
The measures announced today follow actions announced last week requiring all employees to work remotely unless they are performing a business-critical job that requires being onsite. The working remotely policy will continue, until further notice, in a continued effort to help contain the virus. Precautionary measures are being taken to protect the safety of the small number of employees who are unable to work from home.
“It is at difficult times like these when we must stand united and put people first,” added Rowley. “We at Ford will play our part in the weeks ahead to help get through this crisis, reduce its spread and alleviate its effects wherever we can.”