How the U.S. Plant Closures Will Affect 2020 Ram 1500 Production
Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, known as SHAP, builds the 2020 Ram 1500. The plant figures prominently in the Detroit Three’s decision to shut down production to attempt to contain the Corona virus or COVID-19. Fiat-Chrysler North America announced earlier today that it was shutting down the plant after one worker tested positive for the virus. This comes one day after the UAW and the Detroit Three announced that production would continue along with measures to deep clean the plants between shifts.
Fiat Chrysler Shut Down All North American Production
However, after a worker at SHAP tested positive for the COVID-19, it became clear that it would be difficult to keep workers on the line because of the fear of contracting the virus. After making the announcement that the plants would close temporarily, Fiat Chrysler released a statement saying, “Working with the UAW and listening to the concerns of our people, we have agreed to cease production at our plants across North America, starting progressively from today through the end of March. While production is paused, the Company will put actions into place to facilitate the steps agreed to through the joint task-force set up between the UAW and the automakers. Through this period, which we will re-evaluate at the end of this month, FCA will work to enhance its manufacturing operations to facilitate the changes agreed with the UAW including shift timings, structures and enhanced cleaning protocols.”
Fiat CEO Mike Manley was in the SHAP plant yesterday and released this statement today. “Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them. We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty.”
Detroit Three Shuts Down North American Production
Ford and General Motors also announced that their plants would be shutting down until the end of March. As of now, Fiat Chrysler has one worker at its Kokomo Engine plant, in Indiana, and one worker at Sterling Heights Assembly, in Michigan, with the virus. Fiat Chrysler is not giving any indication about how the workers caught COVID-19.
Fiat Chrysler says it will use this downtime to reevaluate its procedures and its future. “With our priority towards the health and safety of our workforce we are also evaluating the impact of all steps being taken inside the company related to the Coronavirus emergency on our current financial guidance. We will provide an update on our financial guidance when that evaluation is complete and we have sufficient visibility on market conditions.”
The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant builds Ram’s most popular product, the 2020 Ram 1500. The plant employs 7,659 people, building the Ram on three shifts. As of now, Fiat Chrysler supposedly has a 75-day supply of vehicles. Obviously, those figures could be a little off on the most desired vehicles like the Ram trucks and the Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators.
How the Closures Will Affect 2020 Ram 1500 Production
Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the effects on the availability of the 2020 Ram 1500 should be minimal. If the closure is just for the two-week period, someone ordering a vehicle may have to wait a few extra days to get exactly the vehicle he or she wants, but overall, the wait should not be a huge inconvenience. The immediate result is that some of the most popular trim configurations could become scarce and dealers might have to trade to get you the vehicle you really want. If it drags on longer that the two-week estimate, you may have to settle for a different color or trim level. I can guarantee you that once production resumes, Ram will concentrate on building its most popular trucks first, as well as completing its customer orders.
This is one of the situations where Ram’s new custom shops will help speed up the production and deliveries, because trained workers will be completing the specially-ordered trim packages as fast as the SHAP plant can produce the trucks.
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