Honda, Nissan furlough U.S. workers as auto demand plummets

FILE PHOTO: The Honda logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy/File Photo

TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co 7267.T and Nissan Motor Co 7201.T on Tuesday said they had furloughed thousands of workers at their U.S. 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 U.S. hourly workers effective April 6. It has suspended operations at its U.S. 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 United States, 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 Automobiles NV on Monday extended its shutdown of U.S. and Canadian plants until May 4.

Toyota Motor Corp has halted its U.S. and Canadian production through April 17 7203.T. A Toyota spokesman said it has not furloughed full-time U.S. employees.

Reporting by Maki Shiraki in Tokyo and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Jason Neely and Paul Simao