Cummins to reopen local plants next week

Cummins Inc. plans to resume production at most local manufacturing facilities next week after they were temporarily shut down earlier this month due to market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Company officials expect Columbus Engine Plant, the Fuel Systems Plant (FSC and XPC) and the Seymour Engine Plant to reopen Monday. However, the restart date for Cummins’ MidRange Engine Plant in Walesboro, which supplies a facility in Mexico with the Dodge Ram engine, is still uncertain and depends on when Fiat Chrysler, the maker of the Dodge Ram, resumes production.

“The plan is for all the manufacturing sites to resume on May 4,” said company spokesman Jon Mills. “CMEP is uncertain because it is reliant on (Fiat Chrysler).”

Earlier this month, Cummins had announced it would temporarily shut down all of its southern Indiana manufacturing plants beginning the week of April 6.

The plant closings were staggered to ensure the company could build enough inventory to meet customer demand, according to a company message to employees.

The shutdown has affected a couple thousand employees in southern Indiana, the company said. Cummins’ MidRange Engine Plant, which has about 900 employees, has been on a shutdown since March 20 because Fiat Chrysler had temporarily halted production in North America due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fiat Chrysler, however, has signaled that it is backing off a planned May 4 restart at its North American factories because some U.S. states still will have stay-at-home orders in place, The Associated Press reported.

The move likely means Fiat Chrysler factories will be idled for at least another two weeks as they negotiate reopening terms with the United Auto Workers union, according to wire reports.

“In light of the updated state stay-in-place orders, the company is re-evaluating its plans to resume its North American operations and will communicate new restart dates in due course,” Fiat Chrysler said Monday night in a statement.

Fiat Chrysler on April 7 reported a 10% decline in sales during the first quarter of 2020 with strong revenues in January and February being “more than offset by the negative economic impact of the coronavirus in March,” the company said.

Ram pickup trucks, however, were a “bright spot” with sales rising 7% during the first quarter to 128,805 vehicles.