The Italian-American autos group said in a statement Monday that it would suspend operations at a majority of its factories in Europe through March 27 in response to an “interruption in market demand.” The company said that six facilities in Italy would be closed, as well as plants in Serbia and Poland.
Shares in Fiat Chrysler were down nearly 16% in Milan following the announcement. The stock has lost 47% of its value so far this year.
Economists say that measures imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus in Italy are likely to push the country’s already fragile economy into deep recession that will put hotels, travel companies, restaurants and other businesses under intense pressure. Germany and France are adopting similar measures and a wider European recession looks unavoidable.
The closure of car plants in Europe illustrates how the impact on the auto industry from coronavirus is going global. The pandemic has already resulted in extended factory closures and a steep drop in vehicle sales in China.
Fiat Chrysler has a significant manufacturing presence in the United States, as well as facilities in other places including the United States, Latin America and China.
More trouble ahead
European car companies could be in for more trouble.
— Hanna Ziady contributed reporting.