Groupe PSA has become the latest vehicle manufacturer to pause vehicle production in Europe, including both Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port and Luton plants, in response to the rapid acceleration of the coronavirus pandemic.
The manufacturing group, incorporating Peugeot, Citroën, Vauxhall/Opel and DS, outlined a detailed schedule of planned factory closures. As well as the two UK plants, the shutdown also affects facilities in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Slovakia.
A company statement listed "acceleration observed in recent days of serious COVID-19 cases close to certain production sites, supply disruptions from major suppliers" and "the sudden decline in the automobile markets" as the reasons behind the decision.
Starting today (16 March), Peugeot's Mulhouse plant near Paris, which produces the 208 supermini, and the Madrid facility where Citroen builds the C4 Cactus, will be closed until Friday 27 March.
Tomorrow, the firm's Poissy, Rennes, Sochaux, Zaragosa, Eisenach, Russelsheim, Ellesmere Port and Gliwice facilities will also close their doors until next Friday. Before the end of the week, operations will also pause at Hordain, Vigo, Mangualde, Luton and Trnava.
The company said that, in the run-up to temporary closure at each site, it will 'go beyond' the recommendations of local health authorities in order to best prevent the spread of the virus.
The decision affects all PSA-owned brands, including Vauxhall, which currently builds the Astra at Ellesmere Port and its Vivaro van in Luton.
The announcement follows similar shutdowns at Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler's factories in Northern Italy and the halting of operations at Hyundai's South Korean HQ. The UK government is in talks with vehicle manufacturers about whether the could begin producing medical ventilators.