(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co <F.N> said on Tuesday it was postponing its plan to restart production at its North America plants due to safety concerns for its workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To generate cash, the No. 2 U.S. automaker had said last week it was poised to restart production at some plants in North America as early as April 6, bringing back such profitable vehicles as its top-selling F-150 full-sized pickup, the Transit commercial van and SUVs.
But on Tuesday, Ford said that although it had been aiming to resume production at several key U.S. plants on April 14, it would now do so at dates to be announced later on.
“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s North American operations, said in a statement.
Still, the automaker will open a plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, during the week of April 20, that will make ventilators to treat patients afflicted by the coronavirus.
Michigan, which is home to a large portion of the U.S. automotive industry, has also become a hot spot in the pandemic. Schools and all but essential businesses have been ordered closed through at least April 13 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Galhotra said Ford was working closely with the United Auto Workers union to “develop additional health and safety procedures” to help keep hourly workers healthy.
“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation,” UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement.
Rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <FCHA.MI> <FCAU.N> said last week it plans to resume production in North America on April 13.
A spokeswoman for FCA said the automaker was “continuing to monitor the situation.”
General Motors Co <GM.N> has shuttered its plants indefinitely and has not provided a date for vehicle production to restart.
“Once it is safe to resume production, we will do so,” a GM spokesman said.
(Additional reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)