Even as Chinese health authorities reported a slowing of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak there, the world auto industry is now coping with the fear of it.
The epidemic may have reached its peak in China, its epicenter. But automakers around the world, their supply chains, industry vendors and personnel rose to heightened alert last week, quarantining select operations and canceling activities to avoid spreading the disease.
The moves affected product ramp-ups and marketing events, pushed down stock prices and chewed into industry revenues as decision-makers grappled to respond.
Hyundai Motor Co. halted production Friday, Feb. 28, at its Ulsan plant in South Korea that produces the popular new Palisade SUV after a worker there tested positive for the coronavirus.
The company did not say when production would resume.
Organizers of the annual Geneva auto show late last week canceled this month's event for fear of bringing industry audiences together from around the world during the epidemic. It is the second major auto show to be directly impacted by the outbreak: Several weeks ago, organizers said April's Beijing auto show would be postponed.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles moved to seal off its European operations. The automaker said in a letter to suppliers and visitors last week that at all of its European facilities, it will restrict the access of those who have been in one of 13 Italian municipalities affected by the virus outbreak. The letter said FCA also is banning anyone who has been in China or another Asian country in the previous 15 days from entering its facilities.