FCA ramping up post-COVID production

Employees at the Warren (Michigan) Truck Assembly Plant remove a protective cover from a Ram 1500 as production operations restart.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. revealed that 85% of its employees in in the United States, Mexico and Canada are now at work building new vehicles after a long layoff triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of the week, FCA added third crews at the busy Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit and the Sterling Heights Assembly plants in suburban Detroit. The plants build some of the company’s most valuable vehicles, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram full-size pickup trucks.

It also added a second shift at the Jeep Wrangler plant in Toledo, Ohio and Warren (Michigan) Truck plant, according to the schedule released by the company, and resumed production on one shift at the company’s assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois. FCA also added a third crew at the Windsor Assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario.

(Fiat Chrysler moves ahead with Meals for Kids.)

A plexiglas barrier is attached to the ergo arm operators use to install front end modules at FCA’s Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant.

In Mexico, FCA added a second shift at the truck assembly plant in Saltillo and at the second shift and a van plant in Saltillo. It also plans to add a second shift at the FCA plant in Toluca, Mexico.

GM and Volkswagen announced plans to restart production at four of their assembly plants this week 2020. GM announced plans to restart production at its plants in Arlington, Texas and Fairfax, Kansas both will begin production with one shift.

Volkswagen also announced that its plants located in Puebla, Mexico, is scheduled to begin production during this week at a weekly production capacity of 15,309 units.

(Fiat Chrysler posts $1.84 billion Q1 loss.)

Most automakers with plants in the U.S. have restarted and are in the process of ramping up production at all of them. Ford and FCA have had to deal with COVID-positive employees gaining access to the plants, forcing the automakers to institute safety protocols.

Weld curtains hang across the door line at FCA’s Sterling Heights (Michigan) Assembly Plant to protect employees from the spread of COVID-19.

As production ramps up at FCA’s and other automakers’ facilities, the companies continue to make personal protection equipment for first responders, including respirators, ventilators, face shields and face masks.

The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, noted in a new report that as the coronavirus crisis continues to disrupt the global economy, North American vehicle sales have dropped sharply, and production had come to a nearly complete stop.

(FCA cuts pay of senior executives, salaried employees.)

Given the complexity of automotive manufacturing, the tremendous capital required to restart production, and the industry’s deep global supply chains, resuming vehicle production in North America will be a complex undertaking that is likely to take place in stages. CAR researchers are tracking automaker announcements for the restart of production at the companies’ North American plants.

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