Mercedes-Benz will halt production at its two U.S factories to contain the spread of coronavirus virus.
The German automaker was one of the last holdouts to announce production shutdowns in the wake of the pandemic.
Mercedes will stall assembly lines at its utility vehicle plant in Vance, Ala. and its van factory in North Charleston, S.C. Production will wind down starting in Vance on Monday for two weeks. The disruption could last longer.
“Management is monitoring the situation constantly and will take further measures as required,” the company said. “Operations will be resumed when the situation improves.”
The more than 6-million-square-foot Alabama plant employs about 4,200 people and is the global production hub for the GLS, GLE and GLE Coupe. The factory, which has the capacity to build more than 300,000 vehicles each year, is the second largest vehicle exporter in the U.S. About two-thirds of crossover volume produced in the plant is exported.
Mercedes-Benz Vans builds Sprinter vans in the North Charleston factory.
BMW's crossover plant in Spartanburg, S.C., one of the last U.S. auto plants still operating, said it will idle production from April 3-19.
"At the same time, the dynamic development of the corona pandemic is having a major impact on the global demand for cars," the statement said. "We are therefore taking a flexible approach and adjusting our production volumes accordingly."
The South Carolina factory makes the brand’s lucrative X3, X5 and X7 crossovers. The plant is BMW’s largest production facility in the world, employing 11,000 people and boasting annual capacity of 450,000 vehicles. It’s also the biggest auto exporter by value in the U.S.
Hyundai shutdown extended
Hyundai is extending its Alabama assembly plant closure due to anticipated decline in consumer demand for vehicles produced at the Montgomery facility, which are the Sonata and Elantra sedans and the Santa Fe crossover, the company said Friday.
The Korean automaker had originally suspended plant operations on March 18 after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus. At the time, it planned to deep-clean the facility and determine whether to reopen once it was safe to do so.
The suspension is now extended for seven business days, from March 23 through March 31, cutting the total number of vehicles produced by about 10,000 units, Hyundai said in a statement. The plant’s approximately 3,000 workers will continue to be paid, it said.
“The rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic is requiring Hyundai to carefully manage its manufacturing operations to adjust production to the foreseeable market demand. We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action in a timely manner,” the company said.
Kia to resume
Kia's assembly plant in West Point, Ga., is set to resume production Monday after the automaker said it suspended output Thursday over supply chain issues.
In addition, according to a report by WGCL-TV, five employees at the plant are self-quarantining after possible exposure to the coronavirus.
In a statement, Kia Motors America said the plant "will take the opportunity to perform routine maintenance activities, as well as additional cleaning and sanitizing processes to workstations throughout the facility as part of its prevention measures related to COVID-19 risks."
The West Point plant builds the Optima sedan and Sorento and Telluride crossovers.
Rivian halts operations
Electric vehicle startup Rivian said Friday in a Twitter statement that it has temporarily shut down all company facilities, but did not provide information for when they would be back online.
The automaker said both salaried and hourly employees will continue to be paid during the shutdown.
Alexa St. John and Bloomberg contributed to this report.