Six major automakers—Toyota, Tesla, Hyundai, BMW, Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen—plan to resume production in early May following an almost six week COVID-19 related shut down that began on March 23.
Volkswagen plans to restart its Tennessee plant on May 3 while the rest have announced a gradual resumption of production at some facilities by May 4. GM and Ford could resume operations around the same timeframe as the rest of the auto industry, though they haven’t given any particular date as yet. Restarting in stages could possibly take months while also taking into account, consumer demand and return of product supply.
However, the date is considered too early and risky by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW). Rory Gamble, president, UAW said in a statement on Thursday that scientific data is not conclusive at this time, to warrant a safe return to work for its members, adding that testing was still inadequate to fully understand the threat involved for an early return to work.
The UAW did not recommend a specific restart date but said the union is pleased with the response of auto companies regarding health and safety protocols that will be needed when operations resume.
Honda, which planned to reopen its North American plants on May 1, pushed the date back to May 8 this week, citing quickly changing economic impacts during the pandemic. Honda also said it will extend salaried and support staff furloughs for one more week, until May 8 or 11 depending on start date and location.
Subaru plans to restart on May 11 and Nissan plans to resume operations sometime mid-May, according to media reports.