TURIN – The Italian automotive industry is bracing for potential fallout from a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus that has killed nearly 500 people in the country.
Italy’s prime minister has called the outbreak the country’s “darkest hour,” inviting comparisons to the U.K. during World War II. The effects, both psychological and economic, could be devastating as the government struggles to contain the damage.
“We need to change our habits right now,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at an unscheduled news conference Monday evening. He ordered the of nation of more than 60 million people to “stay at home” as he explained that “we are forced to impose sacrifices.”
Despite the dire warnings automakers and suppliers continued to operate on Tuesday.
"So far there is no change in the measures we have taken,” a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles spokesman told Automotive News Europe. “We are evaluating whether further measures will be necessary."
FCA said that there have been no problems thus far receiving parts from suppliers.
When asked about the status of its retail network in Italy, the spokesman said, “So far they are open, although customer traffic is low."
Ferrari, Maserati and several vehicle component suppliers contacted by ANE also said they were open for business on Tuesday.
This was possible because Italy’s lockdown includes a provision for "proven working needs." That means employees are allowed to go to their jobs.
At FCA the option to work from home, which previously was limited to specific cases, has been extended to employees at all the company’s facilities as long as their absence is compatible with the automaker's production needs.
Since Monday, Maserati has only required essential employees to report to work at its facilities in the Modena area. All others will work from home. Maserati employees about 1,350 at three locations in the Modena area.
Ferrari has said it will continue to operate as long as it keeps getting the components it requires from suppliers.