Truck plants around the world are slowly grinding to a halt as a result of the Covid 19 crisis, with Australia’s truck plants not being immune.

Volvo Group Australia announced today that it would shut its Wacol production operation from the 13th April, with VGA president Martin Merrick explaining the timing of the shutdown on issues with the global supply chain and not on social distancing or isolation.

“We have successfully implemented social distancing and hygiene initiatives throughout our business and to keep ourfactory running, however, COVID-19 has made a considerable impact in limiting supply chains around the world and our supply chain is no exception.

“The decision to idle our factory due to global supply chain disruptions will not only serve to secure our business overthe long term, it will also serve to support the 90 plus suppliers that in turn support our supply chain.”

“Volvo Group Australia is committed to supporting a safe, sustainable, efficient and productive transport andmanufacturing industry locally. We are committed to customer success and acknowledge the challenges faced byour business partners in these uncertain times,” said Merrick.

Much of North America’s truck manufacturing industry is grinding to a halt, as OEMs take a range of actions to cope with decreasing demand and to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

Volvo Group companies including Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks were the first to close production at U.S. factories in response to the pandemic.

“Although we have no reason to believe we have any cases of Covid-19 at our Volvo Trucks or Volvo Group powertrain manufacturing facilities, we have decided to temporarily suspend production as part of the effort to slow the spread of the virus in our communities,” said Mary Beth Halprin, vice-president, public relations and corporate affairs with Volvo Group America.

“Effective Monday, 23 March, we will suspend production through Friday, 27;March  moving forward, we will monitor the situation and communicate additional decisions on a weekly basis,” she added

Mack Trucks suspended production on 19 March , and in a letter to customers, Jonathan Randall, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, assured that Mack Trucks and its dealer network remains ready to support customers.

Paccar on Tuesday this week became the latest North American OEM to suspend truck production worldwide, obviously including its Bayswater operation in Melbourne,  due to “recent changes in customer demand and a weaker outlook for the global economy, as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The shutdown is at this stage from 24th March 24 until A6th pril, and will be reviewed on a regular basis. Paccar said it will continue to provide aftermarket support to its customers. The company is also adjusting its 2020 financial outlook.

Navistar International announced it was suspending production at its truck assembly plant in Springfield, Ohio, for two weeks from 24 March  in response to Covid-19-related disruptions to its supply chain. It is also withdrawing previously announced financial and industry guidance for the fiscal year.

Navistar cannot predict if or when any further disruptions will occur due to the rapidly changing environment as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve,” the company announced. “The company believes its future financial results will be impacted, but at this time, the magnitude of those impacts is uncertain. As a result, the company is withdrawing its 2020 financial and industry guidance.”

Unlike the other makers market leader Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is still producing trucks and engines. However it did temporarily close its Detroit powertrain campus in Michigan., after an employee there tested positive for Covid-19, but the facility resumed operations  on 23rd March.

“Our industry plays a critical role in our national infrastructure. Besides food, sanitation, and emergency services, there are a myriad of items such as hospital supplies, test kits, and other items desperately needed to combat the virus and to treat its victims, which require transportation by commercial vehicles,” the company said in a letter to customers.

“The Department of Homeland Security has designated transportation equipment manufacturing to be part of the nation’s Critical Manufacturing Sector.”

DTNA leaders said the company’s supply chain has not seen any constraints or labour disruptions and that its North American facilities are delivering trucks on time.

“So far this month, our on-time delivery rate continues to be at a very high level. The environment is changing rapidly and we are adapting every day,” the company said.

“We are in a unique and challenging period in history, one that requires patience, creativity, and careful planning. Please know that we are monitoring and adapting to the situation as it develops, and that we recognize that communication is critical to successfully navigating it.”