Friday, 15 May 2020 22:47

Automakers’ Plans for Returning to Work

Written by Kimberly Hurley, CBT Automotive Network


Automakers were shut down for quite some time following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With many states and counties slowly beginning to open up again, the automotive industry is among many others looking forward to reopening and hoping to recover from the losses experienced during the pandemic. Here’s what we know about specific manufacturers’ plans to return to work.


General Motors has been busy working to generate ventilators and masks during the pandemic and restarted some operations on May 11 but plans to restart full operations between May 18 and May 26.


GM CEO Mary Barra said precautions will be taken to keep the novel coronavirus out of production facilities as well as to “quickly identify” if someone who is infected has been in the facilities. She added that since implementing precautions, GM has “not seen a confirmed case of community spread in our facilities.”


Ford is also set to reopen on May 18, which will bring around 71,000 people back to work in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The auto giant is also taking massive precautions to promote safety in its facilities.


“There’s a lot going on to make sure these safety protocols are right, so people understand what to expect when they do come back,” said Communication Manager Kelli Felker.


Ford has also been instrumental in assisting the country during the COVID-19 pandemic by making ventilators, respirators and masks.


GM and Ford are both expected to continue making resources to alleviate COVID-19 despite restarting auto operations.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is also planning on resuming operations May 18, and the manufacturer has already implemented many new protocols to protect workers and promote safety. These include moving shields to protect line workers, redesigned workstations, staggered work schedules and thermal imaging cameras to verify self-reported temperatures. Of course, gloves and safety goggles will be mandatory as well.

Kia Motors resumed operations at its Georgia plant May 4 after it was shuttered at the end of March. The abrupt change in the global supply chain has greatly affected Kia and its approximately 2,800 workers at the Georgia plant. Kia has plans to screen employees’ temperatures, require face masks and implement better social distancing processes.


Kia’s Rick Douglas also announced the Georgia plant will be “running only one shift for now until the supply chain will allow normal production.”


Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp. has definitely felt the detrimental effects of the coronavirus pandemic. On May 9, Reuters reported the manufacturer is “seeking $2.8 billion from Japan’s three megabanks and other lenders to ride out the coronavirus epidemic.”


Mazda’s manufacturing plants have been active for a couple of weeks in certain areas of the world. According to a press release, the company’s plants in Taiwan opened around April 10, its Mexico plants were closed until May 1, and its Japanese plants were shuttered until May 10 but are now active.


Volvo restarted production in other countries such as Sweden around April 20 and restarted at its South Carolina plant May 11. Toyota, Honda and Subaru resumed operations May 11 as well. Luxury manufacturer Mercedes-Benz resumed production in Alabama on April 27 and in South Carolina on May 4.


BMW plants reopened March 4. Volkswagen was aiming to reopen in Tennessee on May 3 but has postponed that date indefinitely. Nissan also does not have a confirmed date to restart production.


We thank CBT Automotive Network for reprint permission. 

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