Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks is suspending production at their U.S. assembly plants, the first heavy-duty truck manufacturers to idle workers because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Although we have no reason to believe we have any cases of COVID-19 at our Volvo Trucks or Volvo Group powertrain manufacturing facilities, we have decided to temporarily suspend production as part of the effort to slow the spread of the virus in our communities,” Volvo Group spokeswoman Mary Beth Halprin told FreightWaves on Friday.
Mack and Volvo make all their trucks for sale in the U.S., Canada and Mexico at their respective locations in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and Dublin, Virginia. The two plants employ about 5,000 workers. A powertrain plant in Hagerstown, Maryland that feeds both assembly plants also will shut down from March 23-March 27.
Mack began its shutdown on Thursday at the Lower Macungie Township plant, spokesman Christopher Heffner said.
“During this suspension, we will be exploring new ways of working and possible approaches to production that would allow for increased social distancing in the facility,” Halprin said. “The health and safety of our employees and communities will be our primary concern as we work to make the most informed decisions we can during this uncertain time.”
Check back with FreightWaves as this is a developing story.
Special divided dropped
AB Volvo (OTC: VLVLY), the Swedish parent company of the Volvo Group siblings, said on March 19 it was pulling a recommendation for a $0.73 per-share special dividend it had proposed for the company’s April 8 annual meeting.
“Many of the Group’s operations are, or will be, temporarily closed and it is currently not possible to assess the duration,” the parent company said in a statement.
“In order to ensure that the Volvo Group can act from a position of strength in the current turbulent environment, the Board considers that it is prudent to maintain the proposal for the ordinary ($0.53 per-share) dividend, but withdraw the proposal for an extra dividend.”
Wabash tosses earnings estimate
Separately, trailer maker Wabash National (NYSE: WNC) said Friday it does not expect to meet its first quarter or full year 2020 guidance provided on February 12.
“Given the rapidly evolving situation, the company is currently unable to quantify the full impact of COVID-19 on its outlook and expects to provide additional information during its first quarter earnings call,” Wabash said in a statement.
Wabash National designs and manufactures dry freight and refrigerated trailers, platform trailers, bulk tank trailers, dry and refrigerated truck bodies, as well as structural composite panels, aerodynamic solutions for trailers and specialty food grade and pharmaceutical equipment.
A company spokeswoman told FreightWaves it knows of no coronavirus cases in Wabash plants. She declined to answer whether line rates had been cut or any employees had been laid off.
“Customer pickups [of finished trailers] have been behind our initial expectations and we anticipate growing supply chain disruption in the coming weeks,” said Brent Yeagy, Wabash president and CEO.