Mexico's auto industry restart gathers steam as lockdown eases
Mexico's auto industry reopening picked up pace on Tuesday, with Fiat Chrysler and BMW AG joining peers in gradually dusting off operations even as the wait for approvals slowed the return of some companies.
In mid-May, officials said the industry could exit a mandatory coronavirus lockdown before June 1 if safety measures were approved.
However, some Mexican governors have urged caution as new coronavirus infections and deaths ticked higher, in a sign of what is expected to be a bumpy return as complex North American supply chains are linked back together.
Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday began reopening two facilities in the central Mexican city of Toluca after a gradual restart of its operations in the northern city of Saltillo a day earlier, said a company spokesman.
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"We are opening up with only 40% of personnel at each plant. It's an orderly and secure reopening, following all the protocols the Health Secretary has given us," he said.
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The announcement means two of Detroit's Big Three automakers have begun restarting Mexican operations. The third, Ford, said on Tuesday it was working closely with the government to comply with health protocols. "We're hoping we can get its approval to operate," the company said in a statement.
In a letter to workers viewed by Reuters, Ford said it has set May 28 as a provisional date for the gradual restart of its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.
Ford did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the document.
BMW said it would restart operations at its plant in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi on May 27.
General Motors Co began opening production lines at its Mexican plants in Ramos Arizpe in the northern state of Coahuila and in the central city of Silao on Thursday.
Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Honda Motor Co Ltd are also restarting in Mexico.
German carmakers Volkswagen and Audi are still awaiting authorization for their plants in Puebla state, whose government said on Friday that conditions "do not exist" yet for a restart.