Automakers, tire manufacturers announce plant closures in Mexico

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sharp drop-off in demand for tires and cars, causing manufacturers across North and South America to furlough workers and implement partial factory shutdowns.

Audi, General Motors, Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, BMW and Ford have announced plans to suspend production at factories in Mexico and the United States.

In Mexico, the plant closures took effect Monday and will extend to March 30 for several companies, with other companies setting tentative reopening dates in mid-April.

The Ford Motor Company factory in Hermosillo, Mexico, and Ford’s other North American plants will not reopen on March 30, according to a recent release from the company.

Ford’s Hermosillo plant employs 3,650 workers and assembles Fusions and Lincoln MKZs.

“We are assessing various options and working with union leaders – including the United Auto Workers and Unifor – on the optimal timing for resuming vehicle production, keeping the well-being of our workforce top of mind,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America, said in a release

Nissan, which is suspending its manufacturing in Mexico from Wednesday to April 14, noted that no auto factory workers have tested positive for the coronavirus yet.

“There are currently no cases of the coronavirus in any Nissan installation [in Mexico],” Nissan officials said in a release. “The other areas essential to the company will function with optimal security measures.”

In addition, Bridgestone, Goodyear and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. all recently announced temporary shutdowns of manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico and South America.

Cooper Tire & Rubber said starting Monday it will temporarily shut down its U.S. and Mexico plants on rolling schedules for the next two to three weeks.

“Cooper is closely monitoring supply chain and product inventory levels as the company focuses on continuing to serve customers,” it said in a release. “Cooper believes it currently has sufficient supply of product and will continue to operate distribution centres until further notice to meet customer needs.”

In November, Cooper Tire increased its ownership stake to 100% at its tire plant in Guadalajara, Mexico. Cooper Tire had been involved in a venture partnership at the plant with Trabajadores Democráticos de Occidente (TRADOC), which has owned 42% of the plant since 2008.

Bridgestone has manufacturing facilities in the cities of León and Cuernavaca, Mexico. The company said in a release the temporary shutdown will be at least until April 12.

“The company will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust response plans and activities as necessary,” Bridgestone said in a release.