Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota took steps Thursday to restart North American factories that have been closed to protect workers from the coronavirus.
The plants would reopen in early or mid-April, restoring the largest source of cash for automakers that generally book revenue when they ship vehicles to dealerships.
Ford is aiming to restart production at select plants in North America as early as April 6, the automaker said Thursday. In a statement, Ford said it plans to bring its key plants back up and put more safety measures in place to protect returning workers.
"We will continue to assess public health conditions as well as supplier readiness and will adjust plans if necessary," Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of North America, said in a statement.
Across town, Ford's rival GM said its restart plans remain undetermined.
But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has seen at least three several workers die in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, said Thursday it plans to restart production April 14.
Honda wants to reopen U.S. and Canadian factories on April 7, a week later than originally planned, while Toyota plans to restart North American plants on April 20.
The UAW reacted to Ford's news by issuing a statement: "We are reviewing with great concern and caution today's announcement. Our priority is the health and safety of our members, their families and the American public."
The union later issued a second statement saying any decisions to restart production should be informed by data and where each state is on the contagion curve.
The UAW wants companies to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines at all worksites and before reopening facilities, make sure protections are in place to ensure the safety of workers and the public.
"The only guideline in a boardroom should be management asking themselves, 'Would I send my family — my own son or daughter — into that plant and be 100% certain they are safe?' " said UAW President Rory Gamble.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer put in place an order Monday mandating most people stay at home through April 13. With that in mind and other considerations, GM is still evaluating the timeline to restart production.
"The situation is fluid and can change week to week," said Jim Cain, GM spokesman. "We don't have firm return-to-work dates at this time."