Ala. Mercedes plant to reopen Monday; Toyota plant still has no power
Photo credit: Reuters
A Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Vance, Ala., that was damaged Wednesday by a massive tornado is scheduled to resume production Monday.
The mile-wide tornado destroyed parts of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and caused minor damage to the Mercedez-Benz U.S. International auto-assembly plant just north of the city. The plant itself did not lose power, suffering only minor siding and roof damage that would not delay production, Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald said in an e-mail.
She said the decision to shut down was to aid employees "who needed to support their families, friends and communities that were severely impacted."
Mercedes builds the GL, M and R class vehicles in Vance. Jerald said there was no estimate of lost units, but Mercedes plans to make up the output at a later date.
Multiple tornado cells ripped through a 300-mile stretch of the American south, taking out power to parts suppliers as far north as Virginia. More than 200 people died across five states.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s engine plant in Huntsville, Ala., remained without electricity today after high winds toppled power lines Wednesday night.
Toyota spokeswoman Tania Saldana Blersch said the automaker has yet to determine when to reopen the plant, which saw minimal damage. Production at Toyota's North American factories has already been suspended for Mondays and Fridays through June 3 as a result of parts shortages due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Plants are operating at half production on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The Huntsville plant supplies V-6 and V-8 engines to the U.S.-built Tundra and Tacoma pickups and the Sequoia SUV.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Inc., which has an assembly plant farther south in Montgomery, and Honda of Alabama Manufacturing in Lincoln, Ala., on the eastern side of the state, reported no direct damage from the tornadoes.
Hyundai spokesman Robert Burns said Hyundai's suppliers had been spared by the tornado activity, but plant employees and families may have been affected.
Honda spokesman Ted Pratt said, "We are currently evaluating the impact on suppliers across Alabama, including those well south and well north of us."
Inteva Products supplies instrument panels, consoles, cockpits and floor consoles to Mercedes from two separate plants in the area. Its Cottondale, Ala. plant was not damaged in the storms, but is currently without power, said Kim Welch, global communications director.
The plant is expecting power to be restored over the weekend, she said.
Inteva's Gadsden, Ala., plant was also not damaged, but was without power earlier in the week. It was operational today.
Federal-Mogul Corp.'s Boaz, Ala., factory remains without power, but was not damaged in the storms. The plant manufactures chassis products and control arms for the auto aftermarket.
The supplier is expected to return to operation this afternoon, operating on power from a generator.
Laurén Abdel-Razzaq, Lindsay Chappell, and Crain's Detroit Business reporter Dustin Walsh contributed to this report.