COVID-19 Paralyzes Spanish Automakers

COVID-19’s impact on supply chains and difficulties in protecting workers from infection have triggered plant closings and layoffs across Spain’s automotive industry.

Jorge Palacios, Correspondent

March 18, 2020

2 Min Read
Mercedes-Benz Vitoria Spain (2)
Mercedes-Benz closed Spanish van plant after workers staged sit-in.

MADRID – Spain has become one of the countries hit hardest by COVID-19, and the country's automotive industry is dealing with issues ranging from breakdowns in the supply chain to protecting workers from the spread of the virus.

Mercedes-Benz closed its 5,000-employee plant in Vitoria on Monday, but only after workers refused to report for work and some conducted a sit-in at the end of an assembly line. Workers said the automaker had only distributed gloves and masks and did not provide instructions.

As with line-worker protests in the U.S. and elsewhere, Vitoria workers said it was not possible to maintain the recommended distance from each other while working.

SEAT has indefinitely shut down three lines at its Martorell plant, near Barcelona, where Ibiza, Arona, Leon and Audi A1 models are assembled, idling 7,000 of 13,000 workers.

The Volkswagen subsidiary plans to negotiate with its unions a temporary layoff program that would affect 10,500 workers.

VW’s Navarra plant, which assembles Polo and T-Roc models that share many components with the SEAT Ibiza and Arona, decided Sunday to suspend operations at the facility near Pamplona. Nearly all 5,000 workers there will be laid off.

Nissan, which already had begun laying off 600 workers as its Barcelona plant runs at 20% capacity, will temporarily lay off 2,400 workers. Nissan ran out of tires supplied by a manufacturer in Igualada, a city near Barcelona that has been locked down by authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Renault, which initially announced it was halting production Monday and Tuesday, has extended the measure to the 15-day state of emergency established by the Spanish government. Some 6,000 employees at plants in Valladolid, Palencia and Seville will be temporarily furloughed.

PSA is closing all its European plants, including factories in Madrid, Vigo and Zaragoza that employ a total of 12,800 workers. The French automaker cites supply-chain interruptions, the government lockdown and a “sudden” drop in demand for cars.

Ford will close its Almussafes plant for at least a week following the detection of three COVID-19 cases among 7,400 workers.

As of Monday, Spain had about 7,800 reported cases of COVID-19 and about 300 deaths, second only to Italy among European countries.

About the Author(s)

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like