Coronavirus COVID-19 Automotive News: Many Factory Suspensions Except Tesla

In coronavirus COVID-19 news are Ford, Honda, GM, Tesla, Hyundai, Scania, TÜV Rheinland, Prime Automotive Group and Hertz.

Reported the Tesla factory in Fremont, California is under “shelter in place” by Alameda County. According to TechCrunch Tesla reports that employees in essential roles — including production, service, deliveries, testing and supporting groups should come to work.

“We still do not have final word from the city, county, state and federal government on the status of our operations. We have had conflicting guidance from different levels of government.”

Ford Suspends Production

Following Thursday evening shifts, Ford is temporarily suspending production at its manufacturing sites in North America through March 30 to thoroughly clean its facilities to protect its workforce and boost containment efforts for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We’re continuing to work closely with union leaders, especially the United Auto Workers, to find ways to help keep our workforce healthy and safe – even as we look at solutions for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need,” [said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America. “In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”

UAW and Ford leaders will work together in the coming weeks on plant restart plans as well as exploring additional protocols and procedures for helping prevent the spread of the virus. Chief among them: finding ways to maximize social distancing among plant workers – both during work hours and at shift change, when large numbers of people typically gather at entry and exit points and maximizing cleaning times between shift changes.

“Today’s action is the prudent thing to do. By taking a shutdown and working through next steps, we protect UAW members, their families and the community,” said Rory Gamble, president of the UAW. “We have time to review best practices when the plants reopen, and we prevent the possible spread of this pandemic. We commend Ford for working with us and taking this bold step.”

Ford temporarily closed Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) final assembly building this morning after an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building, as promised as part of the company’s coronavirus emergency response protocol. MAP will halt production through March 30.

In addition, the company will instruct people who have had direct contact with that infected employee to self-quarantine and get medical attention. Those who have had close contact to those who have had direct contact are asked watch for symptoms and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.

The move to temporarily close plants follows Sunday’s news that Ford leaders are forming a Coronavirus Task Force along with UAW, General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler leaders to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and President and CEO Jim Hackett, UAW President Rory Gamble, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, and FCA CEO Michael Manley are leading the task force. The three companies formed a similar task force in Canada.

“Together, we’ll continue finding solutions and best practices that help keep workers at our plants and parts distribution centers healthy and safe throughout our operations,” said Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer.

In addition, Ford vehicle manufacturing sites in Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany, together with the Craiova facility in Romania, will temporarily halt production starting Thursday. Ford’s Valencia assembly and engine facility in Spain already temporarily halted production from Monday, after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus over the past weekend.

On Monday, Ford asked all salaried employees – except those performing business critical roles that can’t be done off site – to work remotely until further notice.

“Especially in these challenging times, we must continue working together and putting people first,” Galhotra said.

GM Suspends Manufacturing

Today, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) confirmed it will begin a systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America due to market conditions, to deep clean facilities and continue to protect people. The suspension will last until at least March 30. Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that.

“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19/coronavirus,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now. I appreciate the teamwork of UAW President Rory Gamble, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes and local leadership as we take this unprecedented step.”

“UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today’s announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic,” said UAW President Rory Gamble. “This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease. We appreciate General Motors’ actions today and will continue to work with them on health and safety plans to be implemented when we resume production.”

To ensure that production stops in a safe and orderly fashion, plants will suspend operations in a cadence, with each facility receiving specific instructions from manufacturing leadership.

Honda Suspends Production

Honda today announced that it would adjust production at all of its automobile production plants in North America, including the U.S., Canada and Mexico, due to an anticipated decline in market demand related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 these six days.

As the market impact of the fast-changing COVID-19 situation evolves, Honda will continue to evaluate conditions and make additional adjustments as necessary. In undertaking this production adjustment, Honda is continuing to manage its business carefully through a measured approach to sales that aligns production with market demand.

During this time, Honda will continue full pay for all of its associates. Approximately 27,600 Honda associates in North America will be affected by this temporary suspension of production. In addition, Honda will utilize this time to continue deep cleaning of its production facilities and common areas to further protect associates upon their return to the plants.

This production adjustment also will allow Honda associates to better prepare and adjust family plans in relation to regional directives to close schools to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This will enable working parents to determine how best to manage the needs of children staying home from school and other required lifestyle adjustments.

The affected auto plants include:

Ohio:
Marysville Auto Plant
East Liberty Auto Plant
Performance Manufacturing Center

Indiana:
Honda Manufacturing of Indiana

Alabama:
Honda Manufacturing of Alabama

Canada:
Honda of Canada Mfg. – Plants 1 & 2

Mexico:
Honda de Mexico – Celaya Auto Plant

The affected powertrain plants include:

Honda Transmission Manufacturing of America (Ohio)
Honda of America Mfg. Anna Engine Plant (Ohio)
Honda Precision Parts of Georgia (Georgia)
Honda of Canada Mfg. Engine Plant (Canada)
Honda de Mexico – Celaya Transmission Plant (Mexico)

While Telsa factories continue to remain in operation.

Hyundai’s Response to COVID-19

The safety, health and well-being of Hyundai employees, customers, business partners and the communities where we do business is of the utmost importance during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. Hyundai has established a coronavirus (COVID-19) response team at all affiliated companies to monitor the situation, minimize the risks and prepare for all potential scenarios.

The following is an update on the coronavirus (COVID-19) impact at Hyundai’s U.S. operations and the proactive and preventive measures each has taken. This information will be updated in real-time.

All employees are working from home except for a small group of employees in certain departments that support auto repair and auto supplies as essential business functions.
Suspended all travel outside of North America and all non-essential travel within North America
Field employees who travel regularly are working from home and refraining from travel
Reinstated the Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection program
Hyundai will make up to six months of payments for new owners who lose their jobs and have purchased or leased their vehicle between March 14 to April 30, 2020 through Hyundai Capital
For select new purchases through April 30 financed by Hyundai Capital, Hyundai is deferring payments for 90 days at the customer’s request.

Hyundai is restricting visitors at Hyundai facilities, suspended training sessions at all Hyundai Training Centers. The company expanded cleaning of Hyundai press fleet vehicles and no contact vehicle delivery and pick ups. The company instituted the cancellation or postponement of company events and programs, including no audience at the global reveal of the all-new 2021 Elantra on March 17, cancellation of the 2020 Sonata Hybrid media drive program and upcoming dealer recognition trip, among others

Hyundai confirmed a case of COVID-19 among its workforce on March 18.The individual who tested positive is not currently on site at HMMA.HMMA has notified the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) of this case. All team members have been informed of the situation. HMMA is suspending production in all areas, for all shifts, beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

HMMA has already deployed additional sanitation measures across the entire facility and will now follow ADPH’s protocols for disinfecting the affected work area. HMMA will confer with ADPH and the CDC to determine if additional measures should be taken.Once HMMA’s environment, health, and safety team have determined that the affected area has been sufficiently sanitized and production is safe to resume, our team members will be informed.

HMMA provided employees with the CDC recommendations on preventative measures to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, including coronavirus, and posted signage throughout the facility. The company is readily providing hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and has suspended public tours.

Certification of Filtering

On March 18th, the international independent third-party testing, inspection and certification organization TÜV Rheinland awarded the flagship model of Lynk & Co with China-mark certification for vehicle-level solid particulates/aerosol filtering protection. Zhong Yuebing, Senior Director of Product Management at Lynk & Co., and Xia Bo, Vice President of TÜV Rheinland Greater China Solar and Commercial Products, attended the ceremony.

TÜV Rheinland issues Lynk & Co 05 China-mark certification for vehicle-level solid particulates/aerosol filtering protection
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In his speech, Zhong Yuebing said: “During this time of epidemic, Lynk & Co is showing its caring for consumers with practical actions and escorting the health of drivers and passengers. Lynk & Co has always practiced the ‘user-centric’ brand model, and will continue to improve its technological strength, to bring experiences to consumers worldwide that are more environmentally safe and of superior product value.”

“As the world’s leading technical service provider, TÜV Rheinland has been committed to benchmarking advanced standards with its own advantages, and providing support and solutions in areas where standards are urgently needed,” said Xia Bo. “Considering the urgent needs of domestic consumers to improve the air quality in vehicle interiors, TÜV Rheinland has launched the industry’s first solid particulates/aerosol filtering protection performance standard for whole vehicles, helping car companies to continuously improve the air quality in cars and protect the health and safety of drivers and passengers.”

Through research and comparison of more than 40 international and domestic standards, TÜV Rheinland’s technical experts have referenced the protective mask standard GB 2626-2006, the medical mask standard GB 19083-2010, the domestic air purifier standard GB/T 18801-2015, the cabin filter standard GB/T 32085.1-2015, and other requirements, combined with the vehicle characteristics, to develop the vehicle-level solid particulates/aerosol filtering protection performance standard 2PfG CH0005:2020-02, along with detailed test methods and certification processes.

The certification process starts with verification of the protective mask-level filtering efficiency of the air-conditioning filter, assessing the speed with which the air-conditioning ventilation system purifies polluted air flowing in when doors and windows are open and maintains micro-positive pressure throughout the interior (shielding entry of external pollution into the interior without passengers being aware). Requirements are in place comprehensively testing the aerosol filtration efficiency of the vehicle interior under current technical conditions, reaching more than 95%.

It is worth mentioning that China-mark certification is TÜV Rheinland’s response to the needs of local customers in the Chinese market. Its main goals are to enhance awareness of domestic brands and pursue quality excellence. The certification relies on TÜV Rheinland’s testing experience in China, a strong technical team, and brand advantages to help consumers identify high-quality, high-performance products in the domestic market.

Scania Stops

Scania plans to stop operations at most of its European production units on Wednesday next week (25 March) due to component shortages and the major disruptions that have occurred in the supplier and logistics chain as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in Europe.

“To ensure our customers’ vitally important transports for society, our service workshops and parts centres will continue their operations,” says Scania’s President and CEO Henrik Henriksson.

At present, Scania expects to resume production within two weeks. Scania staff directly affected by the planned production shutdown are employees at the group’s plants in Sweden, the Netherlands and France.

Scania is in close dialogue with the union representatives in order to jointly address the situation.

Prime Offers Prime Pickup of New Vehichles

In order to maintain their premier level of customer service, even in unprecedented times, Prime Automotive Group (“Prime”) is announcing that they will immediately begin “Prime Pickup”, a vehicle pickup and delivery service. Cars can be delivered to customers’ locations for test drives and, of course, newly purchased vehicles can be dropped off at a customer’s front door. In addition, if autos are in need of repair or maintenance, Prime employees will pick them up and drop them off when service is complete (mileage restrictions may apply).

Prime has already instituted precautions in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. These range from employee health and safety protocols to extra sanitary measures in all areas of the dealerships. Cars that are being delivered or serviced will be sanitized as much as possible. Particular attention will be paid to “high touch” areas such as steering wheels, door handles, gear shifts, etc.

This service will only be offered in areas where it complies with government directives. Should sheltering or other relevant measures be required Prime will, of course, adapt its program.

“During this time, customers have so many concerns, with the primary one being the health and safety of themselves and their families,” said Todd Skelton, CEO of Prime Automotive Group. “If we can be supportive in a small way by offering this service, we are very happy to do so.”

Prime customers who wish to take advantage of this service should contact their local dealership sales or service associate for details.

Hertz Lets Younger Drivers Rent to Get Home

Hertz today announced that now through the end of May it is lowering the minimum age to rent a vehicle at all corporate-owned locations in the U.S. and Canada from 20 to 18 years old and waiving its young renter fee to make renting a car easier for young drivers.

“There are extraordinary disruptions happening to daily life as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), and very notably to students and younger drivers who are returning home or need transportation,” said Hertz Senior Vice President Jayesh Patel. “We are making it easier for college students and younger drivers to rent at Hertz, and our nearly 3,000 airport and neighborhood locations across the country stand ready to help them.”

To rent a vehicle, customers between the ages of 18 and 24 will need to present a valid driver’s license at the time of pickup. For more information and to reserve a vehicle, visit: Hertz.com.

Hertz is also taking some additional steps to offer customers more flexibility during this time:

Flexible Debit Card Policy – Hertz is lowering the minimum age to rent a car with a debit card to 18 years old at all neighborhood U.S. corporate-owned locations. Additionally, Hertz is eliminating proof of return travel and reducing ID requirements.
One-way Rental Savings – From now through April 30, 2020, Hertz customers can save up to 10% off the base rate on one-way rentals at U.S. corporate-owned locations. Visit Hertz.com/oneway for more details.
Moving and Storage Savings – Hertz has teamed up with PODS to promote special savings for those who need convenient and flexible moving and storage solutions. In the U.S. and Canada, PODS is offering a special, limited-time savings of 10% off each month’s container rental for up to six months, 10% off initial delivery, and 10% off transportation charges for long-distance moves. Visit PODS.com for specific offer details.

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