GM, Ford and FCA expected to extend coronavirus shutdown into April

Analysts expect auto sales to be down by as much as 40 percent in March

U.S. automakers General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler are expected to extend their current shutdown in North America into the month of April as the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus continues. At this point, the exact dates that Detroit's Big Three automakers will restart vehicle production remains up in the air.

Ford said in a statement that it does not plan to restart production until at least April 6 but warned it could be further delayed into April.

United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble sent a letter to union members saying that FCA had "no plans to reopen on March 30."

GM has yet to confirm its plans — its last statement said the decision when to reopen "will be reevaluated week-to-week after" March 30 — but unnamed sources told Reuters that it will also comply with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's order barring non-essential businesses from operating until April 13. Gamble's letter said the union is "waiting to hear from GM and are demanding that they put our members’ safety first and adhere to government and health officials’ recommendations to stay-at-home."

A spokeswoman for Whitmer was unable to clarify on Tuesday whether auto production is considered essential or not. Michigan has declared vehicle sales by auto dealers to be impermissible under the order, but dealerships and other facilities can make repairs

The UAW also said two Fiat Chrysler union members — one in Indiana and one in Michigan — have died after contracting the coronavirus.

A group representing major U.S. and foreign automakers warned in a letter to U.S. lawmakers with other industry groups on Monday that, "Auto industry analysts are expecting sales to be down by as much as 40 percent in March compared to 2019." The letter said 95% of North American auto plants are currently closed.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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