Nissan said on Tuesday it has stopped production at its Sunderland plant after the Covid-19 outbreak disrupted supply chains and caused a “sudden drop in demand”.
Ford said it is temporarily halting production in Europe from Thursday because of the virus.
Nissan employs 7,000 workers in Sunderland and supports thousands of more jobs at its suppliers.
The company said in a statement: “Vehicle production has been suspended today in Nissan Sunderland Plant.
“Further measures are currently under study as we assess supply chain disruption and the sudden drop in market demand caused by the Covid-19 emergency.”
Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, called the news “extremely concerning” and urged the Government to take immediate steps to support businesses and individuals.
Vauxhall’s factory in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire is also due to close on Tuesday until March 27 because of the outbreak.
On Tuesday, Volkswagen, the world’s largest car manufacturer said it was preparing to close its factories to slow the spread of the virus.
Volkswagen said it expected 2020 to be difficult, as the company announced it would temporarily cease production at plants in Spain, Portugal, Slovakia and Italy before the end of this week.
As well as coronavirus, car manufacturers are facing a series of problems – including Brexit, the shift away from fossil fuels, and falling demand in China.