Ford Motor Co. is temporarily suspending European production to help containment efforts for COVID-19.
The pause begins March 19 and is expected to last for a number of weeks, depending on the pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements.
Spain already temporarily halted production March 16 after three workers were confirmed with the coronavirus over the past weekend.
Ford is offering U.S. customers purchasing new vehicles the option to delay their first payment by 90 days. Online car shopping options help reduce the spread of the virus, according to Autotrader.
RBC Capital Markets is forecasting a 20% decline in U.S. auto sales in 2020, due in large part to the coronavirus.
The European production pause follows the World Health Organization’s designation of Europe as the new epicenter of the pandemic, with the number of reported cases growing significantly in recent days and expected to continue to rise rapidly. National governments are restricting all but essential travel and personal contact.
A similar halt could be coming to the United States. A task force with representatives from Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the United Auto Workers is meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss whether a temporary plant closure might be prudent.
Component supplies to Ford manufacturing sites in Europe have been increasingly interrupted, while sales of vehicles across the industry have declined with dealerships required to temporarily close their sales operations in some countries.