EU carmakers suspend production; Italian auto associations urge EU action

European carmakers are curbing production as the spread of the coronavirus accelerates, while steel associations linked with the automotive sectors, in the worst hit European country so far, Italy, are asking for EU joint decisions.

“After having put in place all the government measures to prevent and contain the spread of the epidemic, we can see that there is no margin for the closure of production plants, except by a joint decision of all EU countries, in particular, Germany and France,” ANFIA, the Italian Association of the Automotive Industry said Monday. “The possible closure of Italian plants for 15 days is only feasible if that decision is jointly taken by the German and French governments for their respective countries”, the association stated.

Germany is the top importer of Italian automotive components with a 20% share of Italian exports, while France is in second place with 11%.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Monday that its subsidiaries FCA Italy and Maserati were suspending production across most of its European manufacturing plants through March 27. France-based PSA Group also said it was suspending production at its main European production sites. Germany’s Volkswagen is reducing production in Iberia.

“We agree that the problem is a European problem not only an Italian [one]it is true that Italy. [Italy nas] been hit badly so far by the coronavirus with unfortunately more deaths, but if we look at it from an industrial perspective, it is a European problem as the production lines are global,” Riccardo Benso, head of the Italian steel association Assofermet, which represents the steel stockholder and distribution chain, said.

Benso said that some of the main stockholders were still working but were limited in their deliveries, due to the new trade measures at the borders. He underlined how everyone was working to contain the virus and that there would be a hit to the economy for a period of time. But he said that if the slowdown was a “collective slowdown, it will be more sustainable for everyone and that also in the end, thanks to all the large economic stimuli that are starting to be put into place, a recovery will also happen.”

— Annalisa Villa