Industry reacts to attacks

Automakers send thousands home, close plants

Automakers closed U.S. assembly plants and several evacuated their headquarters in the wake of morning terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

At about 3 p.m. EDT, the Chrysler group ordered all its U.S. plants to shut down. The 10 plants are scheduled to reopen Wednesday morning, said spokesman Mike Roseneau.

GM began closing its plants Tuesday morning. Three assembly plants — in Linden, N.J.; Willmington, Del.; and Baltimore — were closed.

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday at about 5:15 p.m. that it closed down the second shift of all plants in the U.S. and Canada . The company expects to reopen most of its facilities on Wednesday.

Ford sent 1,000 World Headquarters employees home beginning at about 11:30 a.m., while other buildings remained open, said spokesman Nick Sharkey. General Motors sent home about 7,500 employees beginning at 10:30 a.m. The automaker made the evacuation official at noon. The Chrysler group made its evacuation of its 12,000 employees official at the same time.GM’s headquarters is in the 73-story Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, while Ford Motor Co. is in Dearborn, Mich., and DaimlerChrysler’s U.S. headquarters are in Auburn Hills, Mich.

GM will resume operations in the Detroit area on Wednesday.

Japanese automakers also closed various operations in the United States on Tuesday.

Toyota Motor North America Inc. closed its New York and Washington offices Tuesday, sending 65 workers home. Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America cancelled the second shift at its Kentucky and Indiana plants, and closed the second shift at its West Virginia engine plant.

Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. sent first-shift workers home two hours early from its only U.S. plant, in Normal, Ill., said Gael O'Brien, Mitsubishi's vice president of corporate communications. The plant's second shift was to start as scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, she said.

At noon, sales and marketing employees in Mitsubishi's Cypress, Calif., office were given the option to go home.

Nissan North America Inc. closed its Infiniti East and Nissan Northeast regional offices in Somerset, N.J., sending about 100 workers home.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. closed offices in New York, Washington and Detroit early Tuesday, accounting for at least 30 employees. "All manufacturing operations are running on schedule," said Honda spokesman Jeffrey Smith.

None of the Japanese automakers reported parts shortages due to the terrorists attacks. Honda's Smith said it's too early to say if restrictions on transportation will impact the shipment of parts.

Mazda North American Operations -- which did not officially close any operations -- expects the restrictions on transportation to affect the regular flow of parts, said Senior Vice President Steve Odell.

"We import product from Japan. Ships won't be able to get into the ports. We do some transportation of parts by air, but mainly road and rail," Odell said. "This will back up everything, but the human side is more relevant than the mechanical."

Toyota's decision to cancel the second shift at Georgetown, Ky., and Princeton, Ind., will cost it about 1,500 units. The Camry, Sienna minivan, Avalon sedan are built in Kentucky, while the Tundra truck and Sequoia sport-utility are made in Indiana.

In Washington, officials at XM Satellite Radio, a GM supplier, decided not to immediately evacuate their three-story building, which is less than 10 miles from the Pentagon. But employees left XM’s studio at their own discretion.

A cloud of dark gray smoke from the Pentagon was visible from XM’s offices. XM still was broadcasting some of its satellite radio channels and has not taken any channels off line, a spokeswoman said.

In Las Vegas, a Nissan spokesman said Tuesday’s annual meeting of Nissan dealers would be abbreviated.

“We’re not going to show some of the advertising” for the new Nissan Altima, said spokesman Kurt von Zumwalt. “That’s not appropriate.”

Nissan also was concerned about how the 700 assembled dealers would be able to leave Las Vegas without air travel. A total of 2,200 dealers, guests, family members and Nissan representatives were at the event.

Frances Oda, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc.’s vice president of marketing, said the company immediately cancelled its national advisory council meeting because of air traffic being grounded.

“People on the West Coast are just waking up to this, so the first thing we did, because we had dealers headed this way for our national advisory board, was cancel those meetings,” she said this morning.

-- Julie Cantwell, Richard Truett, Lindsay Chappell, Joe Kohn and Laura Clark Geist contributed to this report

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