Fiat Chrysler CEO expects all plants in North American to reopen within 3 weeks

Automotive industry gears up for May restart

DETROIT – The automotive industry is gearing up to restart later this month, and the CEO of Fiat Chrysler said he expects all plants in North America to reopen within the next three weeks.

The Big Three automakers -- FCA, Ford and General Motors -- have a task force that has spent the last six weeks looking for the first and best opportunities to safely reopen plant doors and get vehicles rolling off the assembly lines.

FCA CEO Mike Manley made it officials Tuesday morning during the quarterly earnings conference call.

“We expect all plants in North America to restart the week of May 18, with the exception of Belvedere, which will open by June 1,” Manley said.

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The signs the company is nearly ready are already in place outside the Warren Truck Plant. Disney World-style stanchions have already been installed underneath a giant white tent, marking where employees will line up to get pre-shift health screenings as part of the new safety protocols.

It’s going to require line workers to arrive at work at least an hour early.

“This plan is being developed with the UAW and governors in states in which we operate, particularly Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer, from Michigan,” Manley said.

The United Automobile Workers’ union, which has balked at previous start-up dates, appears comfortable with the plan.

“We continue to advocate for as much testing as possible at the current time, and eventually full testing, when available,” the UAW said in a statement. “As for the start date, the companies contractually make that decision, and we all knew this day would come. Our UAW focus and role is and will continue to be on health and safety protocols to protect our members.”

Manley said if May 18 doesn’t work out, the company will be able to adapt. May 18 is past the governor’s current stay-at-home order, which was an important factor in the decision.

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