Fiat Chrysler and VW Suspend Some Europe Operations for 2 Weeks Due to Coronavirus

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Monday it is halting production for two weeks at most of its European plants and Volkswagen has shut factories in Italy and Spain in response to the coronavirus pandemic and slumping demand.
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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles  (FCAU) - Get Report said Monday it is halting production for two weeks at most of its European plants and Volkswagen  (VLKAF)  has shut factories in Italy and Spain in response to the coronavirus pandemic and slumping demand.

Shares of Fiat Chrysler at last check were tumbling 23% to $7.74.

Fiat Chrysler said the suspension will be in effect through March 27 as the company shutters locations in Italy, Serbia and Poland. 

The automaker said it would use the stoppages "to implement revisions to production and quality-control protocols."

Countries throughout Europe are taking strict measures to halt the spread of the deadly illness. 

VW on Tuesday is scheduled to provide an update on its business prospects at its annual earnings news conference. The company employs some 670,000 people at 122 factories across the globe, according to Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Bloomberg TV on Friday that the Chinese market has started to recover, but the situation in Europe remains difficult to predict. Diess warned that closed borders could trigger factory shutdowns. 

VW’s management board and top labor leaders have asked workers to prepare for more difficulties ahead, according to a letter to staff seen by Bloomberg.

"The next weeks will be strenuous, maybe hard as well,” Diess, works council head Bernd Osterloh, his deputy, Daniela Cavallo, and  VW personnel chief Gunnar Kilian said in the letter. “But as Volkswagen team we can hold our ground together.”

Separately, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors  (GM) - Get Report, and Ford  (F) - Get Report said they partnered with the United Auto Workers union to form a task force aimed at protecting workers and limiting the spread of coronavirus.

UAW President Rory Gamble said that “all options related to protecting against exposure to the virus are on the table.”