General Motors will restart production at its plants across China beginning Saturday as it continues to take precautions to ensure worker health amid the coronavirus outbreak.
But economists warn all the precautions in the world will not leave automakers unscathed.
GM is especially in danger. Its wide-scale operations in China put its 2020 revenues this year at "high risk" because of the outbreak.
"GM's workforce production and earnings in China will be negatively affected," Patrick Anderson, CEO of East Lansing-based economic consulting firm Anderson Economic Group, told the Free Press. "GM is trying hard under difficult circumstances. However, even GM cannot avoid entirely the fallout from this epidemic."
In a report by Anderson's company, Volkswagen, Honda, Tesla and Hyundai-Kia were also named as the automakers to be most affected.
Detroit in China
GM now sells more cars in China than it does in the United States, notes the report released Monday called "Coronavirus Consequences to Workforce, Suppliers, and Manufacturers in the U.S. Automobile Industry."
Ford Motor Co. was not on the report's list of automakers at high risk despite operating six assembly plants in China.
Ford will resume vehicle production in China "this week," said a company spokesman. He declined to offer any details on which plants will restart or when.
A Ford statement on its media site said it has about 37,000 employees in China. Ford has two joint ventures in China: Changan Ford and JMC, none in Wuhan.