May 12, 2020 / 2:24 AM / 17 days ago

Fiat Chrysler restarts Brazil production after coronavirus shutdown

A new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sign is pictured after being unveiled at Chrysler Group World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/Files

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Automaker Fiat Chrysler SA (FCHA.MI) on Monday said it was gradually restarting operations at its three factories in Brazil, where operations had been halted for 48 days due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

The Italian-American auto firm said in a statement that 6,400 of its roughly 10,000 employees in the country had returned to work.

“In the first step of restarting operations, the priority will be effectively training all workers on changes in layouts and processes, in light of new safety and sanitary standards,” the company said.

“The production volume will a ramp up through May, as the plant is adapted to new procedures and market demand.”

Prior to suspending operations in Brazil on March 23, Fiat Chrysler had been producing 1,600 vehicles a day at its plant in Betim, in Minas Gerais state, and 1,000 vehicles a day in Goiana, in Pernambuco state.

All automakers in Brazil only collectively produced 1,800 vehicles in April, as the coronavirus outbreak paralyzed industrial operations throughout the country.

President Jair Bolsonaro has said that local government lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus were too severe and causing unnecessary job losses, arguing that the economy must be reopened.

Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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