Ford said Tuesday it will temporarily shut down vehicle and engine production at its factories in Europe in response to the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus.
The shutdown will begin Thursday and is expected to continue for a number of weeks, Ford said, without providing a specific timeline. Ford said it hopes the closure will only be required for a short period, but the duration depends on a number of factors, including the spread of the coronavirus, government restrictions, supplier constraints and the return of customers to dealerships, many of which are now closed.
Ford's manufacturing sites in Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany, and its Craiova facility in Romania, will halt production beginning Thursday. The company's assembly and engine facility in Valencia, Spain has been closed since Monday, after three workers were confirmed with the coronavirus over the past weekend.
The automaker made the decision following the World Health Organization's designation of Europe as the new epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic.
"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," said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. "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."
Ford said it will continue to provide essential maintenance and service across Europe.
Other automakers are also shuttering factories in Europe, including Volkswagen and Daimler. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess announced plans to suspend production at factories in Spain, Portugal and Italy before the end of this week. VW’s native Germany and other European countries are getting ready to follow suit.
Daimler Group announced Tuesday it will suspend the majority of its production in Europe, as well as work in selected administrative departments, for an initial period of two weeks.
The suspension applies to Daimler's car, van and commercial vehicle plants in Europe and will start this week.