North American manufacturing is getting ready to restart.
Automakers are beginning to work on their plans to resume production following coronavirus-related factory closures. Toyota originally planned to reopen its North American manufacturing operation on May 4 but upon further consideration, it has decided to postpone these plans by one week. The Japanese automaker now says its production ramp-up will begin on the week of May 11.
Toyota stresses that it intends to slowly restart production in compliance with federal health and safety guidelines, and local and state ordinances, keeping the health and safety of employees and stakeholders as the top priority. The automaker currently operates 14 manufacturing plants in North America, 10 of which are located in the United States.
The Indiana plant builds the Toyota Highlander, Sequoia, and Sienna, the Kentuck plant builds the Avalon, Camry, RAV4 Hybrid, and Lexus ES, the Texas plant builds the Tacoma and Tundra, and the Mississippi plant builds the Corolla. There are also factories located in Canada and Mexico that build the RAV4, Tacoma, and Lexus RX.
In order to keep workers at these facilities safe, Toyota says it has introduced new protocols. Toyota hasn't specified any of these protocols but we have seen similar measures put in place by Hyundai, with the availability of cleaning stations and other protective equipment. Hyundai will send workers back on May 1, a bit earlier than Toyota, and Tesla has already asked some employees to return to work.
We are still waiting for official announcements from the big three American automakers. May 18 has reportedly been targeted as a date for Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler to restart but some members of the United Auto Workers union feel that this might be too soon and too risky. Automakers are anxious to get back to producing cars but even when these factories are back up and running, it may be a while before the assembly lines get back to pre-coronavirus volumes.