Ford said it is temporarily suspending vehicle and engine production at its manufacturing sites in continental Europe, effective from Thursday. The company expects the closure will continue for a number of weeks.
The automaker's 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, after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus.
"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,” Stuart Rowley, Ford of Europe's president, said in a statement.
“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," Rowley said.
Ford said it hoped the suspension action will only be required for a short period but added that 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.
Ford employs nearly 20,000 workers at the plants in Germany, Spain and Romania, according to its facilities website. The automaker said impacted employees there are being contacted by their supervisors additional information about the closures
Ford's UK engine plants in Bridgend and Dagenham so far are not affected by the suspension of production at the automaker's mainland European manufacturing facilities.
"Production in the UK facilities remains under review in line with third-party customer and market requirements," Ford said in an emailed reply to Automotive News Europe.
Ford supplies engines to Jaguar Land Rover from both plants. JLR has yet to shut plants in response to coronavirus.
Ford also supplies diesel engines to its van plants in Turkey from Dagenham, as well shipping V-6 diesel units to the U.S. for the Ford F150 pickup.
Ford’s plants in Turkey remain open for the time being.
In the U.S., the automaker confirmed a product development worker in Dearborn, Michigan, had tested positive for the virus but said the employee had been working from home for a number of days. A spokesman said there was no risk to anyone the employee worked with.
As of early Tuesday afternoon local time, all of Ford’s U.S. manufacturing facilities remained running. The Detroit 3 automakers and UAW over the weekend formed a joint task force to discuss their response to the virus and ensure the safety of their factory workers, although some blue collar employees are growing frustrated that the company has not acted more quickly to shut down its U.S. plants.