As factories rumble to life — again assembling vehicles and generating revenue — the initial weeks will serve as a trial run of new physical-distancing measures on the assembly line and a test of supply chain readiness. Automakers want to get up and running as quickly as possible to see where the weak points are and how the supply base responds, said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive.
"There could be some moments where the line's going to have to go down, or they are going to have to temporarily halt production because they don't have parts," Schuster said.
The sustained return of auto manufacturing in the U.S. hinges on the supply chain's ability to get its factories humming. With manufacturing powerhouses such as Michigan and Mexico still in lockdown, supply chain readiness remains uncertain.
"There are few cars built in this country that don't have parts from Michigan," said Doug Betts, president of the automotive division at J.D. Power.