All Big Three American automakers plan to reopen their production operations on Monday, May 18, after Ford announced Friday it was taking a phased approach to protect worker safety. The move affects approximately 12,000 workers, as the Blue Oval’s policy is to stagger in employees whose jobs can’t be performed remotely. Both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler voiced their intent to also reopen May 18, but Nissan announced Thursday its plants would remain closed, with no specific date as to when they may bring employees back.
Before assembly plant workers return, though, Ford will restart its parts operations next Monday, May 11. According to the company’s statement, their staggered approach will allow the company to implement proper safety protocols and provide enough personal protective equipment for the entire workforce each shift.
From here, Ford will gradually ramp up production along these new safety protocols. “On May 18, Ford’s North American assembly plants previously operating on three-shift patterns will return with two shifts, most two-shift plants will return on one shift and most one-shift plants will operate on one shift,” the company said in its official statement. Not all plants will go back online May 18, however. The Flat Rock Assembly plant in Michigan and Oakville Assembly in Ontario, Canada will resume production on one shift May 25. Component plants will restart as needed to support the vehicle assembly plants.
Workers will be asked to complete online health questionnaires before reporting to work each day. Upon arrival, they will undergo no-touch temperature scans, with anyone showing signs of a fever barred from entering the plant. Ford will provide face masks for workers, and require safety glasses with side shields or face shields in jobs that don’t allow for social distancing.
Most Nissan plants remain shut down
While American automakers gear up to reopen, one who isn’t is Nissan. The company released a short statement Thursday:
“Nissan is extending production downtime for most of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The company will continue to evaluate the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, current market demand and supplier readiness before setting a restart date.”
Nissan has two major manufacturing plants in the United States. Its Smyrna, Tennessee plant builds the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Leaf, Rogue, Pathfinder and the Infiniti QX60. The other plant in Canton, Missisippi builds the Nissan Altima, Murano, Frontier, Titan and the NV commercial van.
We’ll provide more updates when Nissan announces a reopening date.