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Coronavirus prompts PSA Group to close European plants

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The PSA Group has outlined its plan for a series of temporary closures at its European plants in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement issued yesterday (March 16) the French carmaker said that the closures had begun in France with immediate effect and would commence at its Vauxhall Astra-building UK plant at Luton on March 19.

PSA Group said: “Due to the acceleration observed in recent days of serious COVID-19 cases close to certain production sites, supply disruptions from major suppliers, as well as the sudden decline in the automobile markets, the chairman of the executive board with the members of the crisis unit, decided the principle of the closure of the vehicle production sites, according to the following schedule and until March 27.”

The group, which was named as AM’s Manufacturer of the Year at the AM Awards 2020 last month, said that site management teams at each of the four manufacturing locations subject to closures would implement the site closure procedures locally in coordination with the social partners.

It added: “Groupe PSA remind that until then, compliance with the barrier measures, going beyond the recommendations of the health authorities on the sites, are the best protection to prevent the spread of the virus.”

PSA’s plant closure plans:

March 16: Mulhouse (France), Madrid (Spain)

March 17: Poissy, Rennes, Sochaux (France), Zaragoza (Spain), Eisenach, Rüsselsheim (Germany), Ellesmere Port (United Kingdom), Gliwice (Poland)

March 18: Hordain (France), Vigo (Spain), Mangualde (Portugal)

March 19: Luton (United Kingdom), Trnava (Slovakia)

The UK's car manufacuting sector is likely to be hit hard by the cornavirus outbreak in the weeks to come.

Production had already slumped to a nine-year January low in the UK despite a 4.1% year-on-year rise in exports volumes, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported last month, with a 23.9% drop in the number of vehicles built for the home market.

David Leggett, automotive editor at data and analytics company, GlobalData, expressed car manufacturers anxiety at the potential duration of the COVID-19 coronavirus disruption last week.

“China's 80% market decline in February is a stark warning of the potential for lost sales in the global automotive market in the months ahead.”

Leggatt added: “Vehicle manufacturers and suppliers alike will be anxious over the duration of the expected coronavirus impacted market downturn and the speed of recovery later in the year.

“Even without the added impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global vehicle market was heading for a decline of around 2% this year with the US, China and European markets flat or slightly declining.

“The demand outlook has now deteriorated further.”

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