Coronavirus hits back. Again.
Late last week, Ford officially announced plans to restart production at several North American plants as early as April 6 and no later than April 14. But it appears that the automaker spoke too soon. Ford has now issued an update announcing that production at those plants will be further delayed as the Covid-19 outbreak continues to spread across the US. What's the new production start date? There isn't one. All production is now on indefinite hold.
"The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority," said Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford North America. "We are working very closely with union leaders - especially at the UAW - to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy."
The proposed plants for production re-start are quite vital to Ford's bottom line. The Kentucky Truck Plant is home to the popular Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator while the Kansas City facility builds the always hot-selling Ford F-150. So why is Ford backtracking here when so much money is at stake? Because the US government extended federal social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Governors and medical officials from several states are concerned the Covid-19 virus outbreak hasn't even peaked yet.
FCA initially announced its plants will be closed through April 13 while GM has yet to announce any restart date. Ford's decision could have an impact for both. The same goes for foreign automakers with factories in the US.
Also last week, Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen announced plans to get their factories up and running again on various dates next month. The updated federal guidelines apply to them as well, but nothing official has been announced yet. But not all of Ford's production plants have been idled.
The Blue Oval has teamed up with GE Healthcare to build as many as 50,000 badly needed ventilators within just 100 days at its Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan. This is slated to begin by April 24.