Asian auto makers Toyota Motor North America and Honda Motor Co. said March 18 that they would temporarily suspend production next week in North America as the continent struggles against the coronavirus. Nissan Motor Co. is planning a two-week shutdown beginning on March 20, according to an internal memo.
Toyota said it is stopping production at all of its plants March 23 and March 24 for a deep cleaning to fight the virus. It previously halted overtime production and Saturday shifts at some of its plants in anticipation of slowing sales.
"Our service parts depots and vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate," Toyota said in a statement. "This action is being taken to help ensure the health and safety of our employees, and due to an anticipated decline in market demand related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We will conduct a thorough cleaning at all of our manufacturing facilities during the shutdown. This also will allow Toyota employees to prepare and adjust family plans in relation to regional directives to close schools. The safety and security of our employees, stakeholders and community are a top priority and we will continue to monitor the situation and take action in a timely manner."
Honda down for six days
Meanwhile, Honda said it would halt production for six days because of the anticipated decline in auto sales as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and will reduce production by about 40,000 vehicles.
Honda will suspend its production beginning March 23, and plans to return to production March 31. It also is suspending operations at transmission and engine plants in North America. Honda will continue full pay for all of its associates and it will utilize the break to continue deep cleaning of its production facilities and common areas.
The Honda facilities temporarily closing include plants in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Canada and Mexico. Honda has no known cases of coronavirus among workers in North America, the company said.
Toyota operates 14 manufacturing plants in North America, including 10 in the U.S. The Japanese auto maker, based in Texas, employs 47,000 people in North America, including 36,000 in the U.S. A 15th plant in Huntsville, Ala., a joint venture with Mazda, has not begun production. Toyota said it would pay its employees for their lost time.
Nissan North America will idle production at all three U.S. factories, starting March 20 in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The shutdown will last two weeks, according to an internal memo obtained by Automotive News. A spokeswoman did not respond in the afternoon of March 18.
Nissan employs several thousand people at vehicle assembly plants in Smyrna, Tenn. and Canton, Miss.; as well as a powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn.
The Smynra plant, the highest volume auto factory in North America, has an annual production capacity of 640,000 vehicles and produces the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Leaf, Rogue, Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60.
The Canton factory has an annual production capacity of 450,000 vehicles and produces the Nissan Altima, Frontier, Titan, Murano and NV cargo and passenger vans.
The powertrain assembly plant in Decherd makes engines for all Nissan and Infiniti vehicles produced in the U.S. The plant also forges crankshafts and cylinder block castings.
Hyundai plant closes
Hyundai Motor Co. suspended production at its Montgomery, Ala., plant March 18 after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, and will completely disinfect the facility before resuming output.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama "is suspending production in all areas, for all shifts," the company said in a press release. "HMMA has notified the Alabama Department of Public Health of this case. Our team members have been informed of the situation."
Plant officials are conferring with the state health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if additional measures should be taken regarding plant cleaning.
Hyundai said that once the plant's health and safety team has determined that production is safe to resume, "our members will be informed."
The plant, which employs about 3,000 people, produces the Elantra compact sedan, Sonata midsize sedan and the Santa Fe crossover.
Kia Motors said March 18 that its factory in West Point, Ga., was continuing to assemble vehicles, including the popular Telluride three-row crossover that has been in short supply since its year-ago launch. The plant also makes the Sorento crossover and Optima sedan.
"Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments in the U.S. and continuously working to prevent infections at our facility," the company said in a statement. "To date, KMMG's production operations have not been affected."
On its website, the facility said annual plant capacity is more than 340,000 vehicles.
Reuters contributed to this story.