March 13, 2020 / 4:40 PM / a month ago

Carmakers in Spain forced to halt output by coronavirus disruption

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Supply problems due to the coronavirus epidemic prompted some Spanish plants of the Renault-Nissan alliance and Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Spanish division Seat to announce temporary stoppages on Friday that could last for days or weeks.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Renault carmaker is pictured at a dealership in Les Sorinieres, near Nantes, France, February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Most affected will be Seat’s main plant in Martorell, outside Barcelona, where around 7,000 workers will stop working on Monday for an unspecified period of time due to production and logistics problems linked to the outbreak, said a Seat spokesman.

Matias Carnero, a union leader at Seat, told Reuters the stoppage could last up to around six weeks.

Seat’s spokesman said its length was yet to be defined, but suggested it would be linked to the evolution of the coronavirus outbreak in Spain. The country has become one of the worst-hit in Europe and its prime minister said on Friday it would declare a 15-day state of emergency from Saturday.

Seat officials and union leaders will meet on Monday for talks about the stoppage, which could lead to temporarily lay-offs, said the spokesman.

The company said earlier this week it was considering potential lay-offs at its main plant in the Catalonia region, in northeastern Spain. [E8N28002D]

Separately, Nissan’s (7201.T) two Barcelona plants stopped on Friday afternoon as a wheels supplier was affected by a lockdown in the nearby town of Odena because of a coronavirus outbreak there. The stoppage would last at least until Monday, a company spokesman said. The plants are closed on weekends.

Around 3,000 people work at Nissan’s Barcelona plants, which produce electric vans and pick-up models.

Renault’s plants in northern Spain will cease production for two days next week due to a lack of components.

“Yesterday we had no problems, and now we have to stop for two days from Monday in Palencia and Valladolid,” a spokesman said, explaining that the supply chain had suffered setbacks in Catalonia. There are about 6,000 workers at the two plants.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Joan Faus; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Alex Richardson

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