Big 3, most plants, back to work Wednesday

U.S. automakers returned to work Wednesday following Tuesday terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, but fallout from the tragedy continued to impact the industry.

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler group, which closed down all 10 of its U.S. assembly plants as well as its Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters on Tuesday, returned all operations to work Wednesday.

Ford Motor Co. shut down the second shift at all plants in Canada and the United States, its World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., and its regional offices in Washington and New York on Tuesday. The automaker has returned all operations to work on Wednesday except for two plants - Wixom, Mich. and Oakville, Ont. - which are experiencing parts shortages due to transportation kinks caused by Tuesday's attacks. A Ford spokesman said it was unclear when those plants would open.

General Motors, which shut down three plants in Linden, N.J.; Wilmington, Del. and Baltimore, and evacuated its Detroit headquarters and Washington and New York offices on Tuesday, opened its headquarters, offices and plants again Wednesday.

Tom Pyden, spokesman for the automaker, said that GM lost 1,000 units due to yesterday's plant shutdowns.

Some auto suppliers said they are concerned about short-term delays at the U.S. and Ontario, Canada, border crossing in Detroit. The U.S. Customs Service reported that both the Ambassador Bridge and the tunnel between both countries are open, but the border remains at "Code Red," the highest state of alert, because of anti-terrorism operations, a spokesman said.

Truck traffic averages 2.4 vehicles per second, according to the Ontario Trucking Association, much of it handling auto parts and recently assembled cars and trucks. Michigan and Ontario have the world's largest trading partnership.

Canadian suppliers say they are taking added precautions about the safety of their employees said it was too early to predict the impact border delays would have on commerce.

Robin Gibson, director of communications for Magna International Inc., said the company "does not anticipate a substantial impact. The Budd Co. and several other U.S. companies declined to comment on the impact heightened security would have on cross-border trade.

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