Toyota stops assembling cars in FranceMarch 18, 2020
According to the company, Toyota Europe will stop production at its plant in Valenciennes, in the north of France, starting on Wednesday to implement measures taken in the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The plant will be closed for an “indefinite period,” Toyota said in a message that had been emailed. Other automakers with factories in France, including the Renault Group and PSA Group, began closing their factories in the country on Monday.
The plant is building a small car Yaris, the best-selling Toyota model in Europe. The company sold 211,714 last year in the region, according to market analyst JATO Dynamics. The Valenciennes factory is preparing to launch a new model at the end of this year, and is also preparing to create a small SUV based on the Yaris platform. The factory was opened in 2001 and employs about 4,500 people, including temporary workers.
Toyota said it is also closing operations at its Toyota Caetano plant in Ovar, Portugal, where it is building small volumes of Land Cruiser for export outside Europe. The plant will be closed for two weeks. According to the company, Toyota’s other European plants in Colin, Czech Republic, and Bernaston, England, will continue to operate.
Toyota said some administrative, accounting, and technical staff will remain in Valenciennes. The design teams that manage the launch of the new Yaris at the plant will also remain in operation.
Toyota recently switched to three shifts in Valenciennes, preparing to introduce a new small SUV, which is due to appear early next year. The company expected an increase in production close to a plant capacity of 300,000, with a new, yet unnamed car, the company said. Toyota planned to show the new car at the Geneva Motor Show, but postponed the show after the show was canceled due to the threat of the coronavirus.
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