Nissan, Honda to furlough US workers as demand for cars sputters

Nissan and Honda on Tuesday said they had furloughed thousands of workers at their US operations as the coronavirus pandemic slashes demand for cars in the country.

A spokesman for Honda, which employs about 18,400 workers at plants in Alabama, Indiana and Ohio, said the Japanese automaker would guarantee salaries through Sunday, having suspended operations on March 23. The plants will be closed through May 1.

Nissan said it was temporarily laying off about 10,000 US hourly workers effective April 6. It has suspended operations at its US manufacturing facilities through late April due to the impact of the outbreak.

Operations at Honda’s Powersports plant in South Carolina, which makes all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), have been suspended since March 26.

Automakers are facing a dramatic drop in sales in the US, the world’s second-largest car market, after some states barred dealers from selling new cars while “stay-at-home” orders are in place. Fiat Chrysler on Monday extended its shutdown of US and Canadian plants until May 4.

Toyota has halted its US and Canadian production through April 17. A Toyota spokesman said it has not furloughed full-time US employees.