Ford becomes the last of the Detroit 3 automakers to announce it will resume production after being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, while Honda joins the list of foreign-owned car companies reopening their North American plants.
Plans by the Detroit 3 to begin phased resumption of their North American plants follow Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision, announced May 7, to allow manufacturing to resume in the state under strict employee health and safety measures.
Fiat Chrysler announced May 5 it would begin a phased reopening of most of its North American facilities the week of May 18. General Motors and Ford made similar announcements May 6 and May 7, respectively.
Ford says its North American parts depots will resume full operations May 11. On May 18, North American assembly plants previously operating on three shifts are to return with two shifts; most two-shift plants will return on one shift; and most one-shift plants will operate on one shift.
Ford’s Flat Rock (MI) Assembly Plant and Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, ON, Canada, are expected to resume production the week of May 25 on one shift. Components plants will restart production as needed to support the reopening schedule, Ford said.
The staggered approach allows Ford to effectively implement new safety protocols and provide all employees with proper personal protective equipment as they return to work, the automaker said in a news release.
In announcing its plans to reopen North American plants, Ford officials echo statements made to media during an April 30 conference call that outlined the automaker’s strategy.
“We’ve been working intently with state and federal governments, our union partners and a cross-section of our workforce to reopen our North American facilities,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s COO.
“We have reopened our facilities in China, successfully begun our phased restart in Europe and have been producing medical equipment in Michigan for more than six weeks and are using the lessons from all of that to ensure we are taking the right precautions to help keep our workforce here safe,” he said.
The ramp-up process will be gradual as workers adjust to the new health and safety protocols and the entire supply chain comes up to speed.