London, March 16 (IANS) Two of Europe's biggest carmakers have suspended manufacturing across the region amid the coronavirus scare.
The move comes as a huge blow to an industry that was already heading for a third consecutive year of falling sales, CNN reported.
Italian-American carmaker Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) said in a statement on Monday that it would suspend operations at a majority of its factories in Europe through March 27 in response to an “interruption in market demand.” Six facilities in Italy will be closed, as well as plants in Serbia and Poland.
Hours later, PSA Group (PUGOY), which owns Peugeot and Citroen, said it would shut 15 factories in seven countries including France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom until the end of March.
The French company said it had made the decision to idle plants following an “acceleration” in serious coronavirus cases close to production sites, disruption to its supply chain and a “sudden decline” in demand for cars.
Shares in Fiat Chrysler were down nearly 19 per cent in Milan following the announcement. The stock has lost more than 48 per cent of its value so far this year. PSA Group stock plummeted 15 per cent in Paris, bringing its losses for the year to above 52 per cent.
Luxury brands haven't been spared either. Maserati, owned by Fiat Chrysler, is affected by the shutdowns, and on Sunday, Ferrari (RACE) said it was temporarily closing two manufacturing facilities in Italy because it was struggling to get the parts it needed to continue production.
The closure of car plants in Europe illustrates how the impact on the auto industry from coronavirus is going global. The pandemic has already resulted in extended factory closures and a steep drop in vehicle sales in China.
Italy has been hit hardest so far in Europe. The national government in Rome has imposed a dramatic lockdown as the coronavirus spreads in the country, where there are now more than 24,000 cases – the most outside China. Italy on Sunday announced 368 deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 1,809.