General Motors, Ford, and other major automakers are halting production at their manufacturing facilities across North America in response to the global spread of coronavirus and the pandemic's deep impact on the markets, the companies said in statements Wednesday afternoon.
"The company will begin a systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America due to market conditions and to deep clean facilities and continue to protect people," GM said in a statement. "The suspension will last until at least March 30. Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that."
A similar announcement was soon expected from GM and Ford’s Detroit counterpart, Fiat Chrysler. The U.S. factories for all three automakers are largely staffed by members of the United Auto Workers labor union, which had been pushing the companies' executives to suspend production.
The GM announcement comes just hours after Honda and Tesla said that they would suspend production at their North America assembly plants. Automakers such as Nissan made similar moves at production sites in Europe.
"We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now," GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.
UAW leaders praised the move by GM.
"UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today's announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic," said UAW President Rory Gamble. "This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease."
The announcement by GM comes just weeks after the company hosted a much-hyped "EV Day," where it touted its "all-in" plan to spend $20 billion over the next five years in a bid to sell more than one million electric vehicles in China and North America. The EV effort, it said, would largely be supported by the company's sprawling manufacturing capacity.