The last few weeks have been a rough time for the automotive industry, as assembly plants across the U.S. have sat idle since mid-March. Now, the Big Three automakers are gearing up to restart production on May 18, according to Detroit News. General Motors sent out alerts to United Auto Workers (UAW) union members that it would work to begin a “limited, cadenced and site-specific approach for a return to the workplace” on that date. The company has also been working with its suppliers to coordinate rebooting most of its production.
Fiat Chrysler also announced Tuesday it plans to restart production on May 18.
Ford has not announced a specific date that its plants are coming back online just yet, but earlier reports suggested all Big Three automakers were keen to restart around the same date.UPDATE 5/8/20: Ford announced they will reopening most of their manufacturing plants on May 18 as well. As both Ford and FCA posted a net loss of nearly $2 billion each in the first quarter of 2020, that move makes sense to get more new vehicles out into dealer inventories to recover sales.
GM actually bucked the trend last quarter, posting a $292 million profit. Strong truck sales helped the company pull out ahead, despite taking a heavy hit from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its associated lockdowns and plant closures. Now, however, the second quarter will be telling for all three automakers as the pipeline of current inventory dries up.
Major launches slated in the coming months
The May 18 date falls immediately after Michigan’s stay-at-home order lifts on Friday, May 15. With plants gearing up to reopen, American automakers have major launches coming up, each with their own significant impact on their performance through the end of the year and into 2021.
Ford alone has no fewer than four big reveals and launches in the coming months. The Bronco is at the front of the line, followed by its baby brother, the Bronco Sport. We should also see a new F-150 later this year, and the all-electric Mustang Mach-E should go into full-scale production, barring any delays stemming from coronavirus.
General Motors has its Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs to launch in the coming weeks. The Chevy Corvette will also resume production, as the Bowling Green plant still needs to fulfill 2020 model orders before transitioning into 2021 model year production.
FCA, for its part, will stay exceptionally busy throughout the next few years, let alone the rest of 2020. We expect the delightfully crazy Ram Rebel TRX to finally make its debut, as well as a next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and the return of the long-awaited Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The company will also shift more earnestly toward electrification, with a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler expected sometime within the next year.