DETROIT -- The trade group for U.S. auto parts makers on Thursday asked the government for emergency grants "to keep the doors open," tariff relief and other assistance to cope with mounting pressures from the coronavirus crisis.
The Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association asked congressional leaders to create a "Manufacturing Emergency Assistance" grant program "to keep the doors open, preserve jobs, and prevent bankruptcies in the vital manufacturing sector."
The grants could offset the costs of medical testing, the group said. The group also called for subsidies to relocate operations to the United States.
Relief from the Trump administration's tariffs on Chinese products and imported steel rank first among the list of requests MEMA made in a letter to top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, who are considering different packages of aid that could affect a broad swath of the U.S. economy.
Suppliers are getting hit as automakers suspend production in North America and Europe to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Estimates for how deeply U.S. and global vehicle sales could drop vary widely. Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note Thursday they were evaluating the impact of as much as a 90 percent drop in U.S. sales over three months. Sales in China fell by more than 90 percent in February compared to a year ago as the coronavirus crisis intensified.
On Thursday, Volkswagen Group said it would halt production at its assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee until March 29. Subaru announced a similar move for its Indiana assembly plant -- following similar moves Wednesday by the Detroit 3 automakers, Honda and other manufacturers.