Fiat Chrysler said today it was halting production up to March 27 at the majority of its plants in Europe due to the coronavirus crisis disrupting the economy. 

FCA said production for its FCA Italy and Maserati units would stop for the next two weeks at its Melfi, Pomigliano, Cassino, Mirafiori, Grugliasco and Modena plants in Italy. 

Serbia's Kragujevac facilities and Poland's Tychy plant will also close. 

"The temporary suspension enables the group to effectively respond to the interruption in market demand by ensuring the optimization of supply," FCA said in a statement. 

The group said the freeze would help it to resume activity promptly once market conditions allow it. 

"The group is working with its supply base and business partners to be ready to enable our manufacturing operations to deliver previously planned total levels of production despite the suspension when market demand returns," FCA said. 

Its move follows a similar decision by luxury carmaker Ferrari which on Saturday said it was closing its two plants until March 27 in response to the virus crisis, citing an emerging shortage of parts. 

Italy has been the European country worst hit by coronavirus and the first to enforce a nationwide lockdown which has now been replicated by Spain and, to a lesser extent, by France as the pandemic sweeps through the continent.

Italy has closed down schools, shops, restaurants and banned all non-essential travel, while allowing companies to continue to operate provided they comply with strict safety measures. 

However, a growing number of manufacturers are opting to suspend production. 

Premium brakes maker Brembo, whose clients include Ferrari, said on Friday it would temporarily close its four Italian plants this week.