Many automakers in the country have decided to halt production to protect workers from the Coronavirus outbreak as there has been a spike in the number of cases in the country over the weekend, taking the number to 415.

India’s largest automaker Maruti Suzuki India on Sunday said it would shut production and office operations at its facilities in Gurugram and Manesar plants, and the R&D centre in Rohtak, with immediate effect.

Country’s second largest car maker, Hyundai Motor India, said that it’s shutting down its Chennai factory for an indefinite period, starting from Monday, due to a significant rise in Covid-19 cases. “We will await further notifications from state government to resume plant operations," the company said in a statement.

Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek said that the company has decided to rapidly scale down activities at its Pune site in Maharashtra to get to skeletal operations by end of Monday and be ready for plant closure by the end of Tuesday if the situation warranted it. Maharashtra has reported the highest incidence with 89 confirmed cases; 14 fresh cases were reported in Mumbai on Monday, one in Pune.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor has said that in view of the orders from the government of Karnataka that all labour intensive industries work at 50% strength on alternate days, it has voluntarily decided to temporarily halt production in its plant in Bidadi, Karnataka.

Honda Cars on Sunday told its associates and suppliers that production at both its manufacturing plants in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and Tapukara, Rajasthan, would be suspended till March 31. “The current intention is to restart production on 1st April 2020, however, this will be dependent upon advice from government/health authorities, and market and supply conditions,” the company said.

“Social distancing is the need of the hour. We can overcome the pandemic if we collectively show restraint, resolution, and responsibility,” said Gaku Nakanishi, President & CEO, Honda Cars India.

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, too, announced shutdown of operations across all its four manufacturing plants with immediate effect till further notice.

Suzuki Motorcycle India has also suspended production at its manufacturing plant at Kherki Dhaula, Gurgaon. “While the company has taken all measures to ensure the well-being of its employees at the workplace, we have announced a `Work from Home’ advisory to our employees and associates who are not involved with maintaining essential services,” Koichiro Hirao, managing director, Suzuki Motorcycle India, said.

Hero MotoCorp, too, has decided to halt operations at all its manufacturing facilities in India, Colombia and Bangladesh.

Industry bodies like SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) and ACMA (Auto Component Manufacturers Association of India) have requested other automakers to suspend production. “The members of SIAM and ACMA both in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and auto component industry have been asked to consider plant shut down for a limited period of time to overcome the critical period so that workers are not exposed to the highly talked about virus,” SIAM president Rajan Wadhera said in a statement.

The Coronavirus outbreak has made things worse for the Indian auto industry, which had been reeling from a slowdown in sales for more than a year. When the contagion had brought the Chinese economy to a standstill, there were also fears of disruptions in the supply of auto parts from China on which automakers in India depend heavily.

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