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Fiat warns coronavirus could force closure of European plant | Business


Fiat Chrysler has warned it could close a plant in Europe as the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc on a rapidly expanding list of global companies.

The carmaker, one of Europe’s largest, joined Virgin Atlantic and Nintendo in adding its name to the list of affected companies on Thursday.

Fiat said it could be forced to halt production at one of four European plants if the supply of parts from China continued to be affected.

Wuhan, the city where the outbreak began, is a major centre for China’s automotive industry and a key source of components used by carmakers around the world.

Companies such as Toyota and Peugeot-Citroen have said their supply chains may be affected but neither expects to close UK plants as a result. Toyota said it had yet to factor the impact into its financial predictions, after it raised profit forecasts.

The coronavirus outbreak is having a damaging economic and business impact on sectors from tourism to technology to aviation.

Virgin Atlantic has extended the suspension of its flights between Heathrow and Shanghai until 28 March. The airline said all passengers booked to travel could claim a refund and should contact the customer care team via their SMS messaging system on +44 (0)7481 339184.

Nintendo told customers in Japan that shipments of its Switch console and accessories were delayed.

Dozens of companies have advised customers and investors to expect disruption that could hit profits. Nike, Adidas, H&M, Gap and Boss have closed Chinese stores.

Disney said lost traffic at its theme parks could cost it nearly $300m. McDonald’s and Starbucks have also closed some outlets, while Ikea has shut its Chinese network.

Apple has joined carmakers in predicting an impact on its supply chain.

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