Nearing the minimum level of cash it needs to run its operations, Chrysler LLC announced late Wednesday that is shutting down all its North American production operations for one month from Dec. 19.
All 30 of the carmaker’s plants will close after the last shift on Friday, and employees will not be asked to return to work before Jan. 19.
Chrysler blamed the “continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer” for the slow-down in sales that forced the move.
The company ordinarily shuts down operations between Dec. 24 and Jan. 5. This closure would add roughly two weeks to that shutdown.
Chrysler is the second major automaker to suspend operations for January. On Dec. 12, General Motors announced it was halting 30% of its North American manufacturing capacity during the first quarter of ’09, “in response to rapidly deteriorating market conditions.”
Chrysler, Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) have asked the government for billions of dollars in emergency loans. At a Congressional hearing this month, Chrysler said it needs $7 billion by the end of this month in order to stay in business. Without a package of loans, millions of jobs could be lost.
Chrysler’s sales have been hit hardest among automakers, dropping nearly 45% the last two months.