Update: Subaru Plant Reopens But You Don't Want One Of The First New Cars Off The Line
Subaru Indiana Automotive where they build the 2020 Subaru Outback plans to bring back some of its 6,000 employees Monday to prepare the plant to start full production on May 18. But you may not want one of the first Outback wagons or Ascent family hauler models that roll off the assembly line once the plant starts up again. According to a report from Wards Auto, new COVID-19 rules could threaten vehicle quality.
It’s not just the Subaru plant that will be affected. The report says “Quality is likely to suffer when the U.S. auto industry restarts and reconfigures assembly lines to conform with new rules for disinfecting and social distancing.” This comes from panelists at the Society of Automotive Analysts’ online State of Automotive Recalls Summit.
2020 Subaru Outback rolls out in Lafayette, Indiana
One speaker on the panel, Dave Prager says “We’re going to see massive disruptions of operations, which will trickle into quality.” The report cites automotive plants like Subaru Indiana Automotive are built to maximize every bit of space. New social distancing rules will spread employees out and it will affect the assembly line and all other areas of the manufacturing process. Prager says. “We’re going to see many more escaped defects.”
The problem with the new cars rolling off the line is you won’t know when it was built unless you ask your salesperson to see the production date. No one knows how long it will take auto plant employees to adjust to new rules that will affect shift changes, and the balance between time spent working vs. the time employees spend cleaning. Wearing new PPEs (personal protective equipment) could also affect the employee's dexterity and ability to perform their jobs at peak efficiency.
Update: SIA spokesperson Craig Koven told Torque News, "SIA developed a ‘Getting Back in Gear’ campaign to help associates become familiar with new health and safety protocols in the plant, and activities related to resuming production. Associates will be participating in a quality training program that highlights the impact of defects on customers and retailers, as well as our plant."
The new plant rules could affect vehicle quality
When you do return to the dealer to buy the new 2020 Subaru Outback, things will also be a lot different for customers. Most Subaru retailers are up and running, from service and parts to selling cars, but now the salesperson will be wearing a mask.
Dealers will also need to practice social distancing, do extra cleaning, wear masks, and gloves. There will be daily health checks for employees and that will be the “new normal” for Subaru and other new car dealers.
If you are ready to buy a new 2020 Subaru Outback or another all-wheel-drive model, you might want to get a model now that was made before the plant closed. New COVID-19 rules could affect the quality of vehicles until employees get used to the new normal.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!
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Photo credit: Subaru Indiana Automotive, Timmons Subaru