General Motors officials say it may take several days to assess tornado damage at the company's Oklahoma City assembly plant, which makes extended versions of its popular mid-sized SUVs.
Two supplier drivers received minor injuries when a tornado struck at 5:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time Thursday, GM spokesman Dan Flores said. GM workers escaped injury after taking shelter when an alarm sounded about 20 minutes before the tornado struck.
GM sent workers home after the storm passed, halting production of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL. Flores said the plant's electrical powerhouse, paint shop and body shop were damaged.
On Friday morning, GM was checking the building's structural soundness before sending teams in to determine how much work is needed to resume production, Flores said. He could not say whether production equipment was damaged or estimate the cost of damage.
The plant produced 7,445 TrailBlazer EXTs, 4,768 Envoys and 280 Isuzu Ascenders in April.
GM's plant in Moraine, Ohio, which makes five-seat versions of the TrailBlazer and Envoy, could make the extended versions, he said. But that plant already is running a three-crew, two-shift schedule, leaving little additional capacity.
"We don't have the capacity to increase production at Moraine, but we do have the capacity to change the model mix," Flores said.
GM would not disclose inventory levels for the extended-version SUVs. Overall, GM had a 106-day supply of TrailBlazers and a 124-day supply of Envoys as of May 1. The extended versions represent 28 percent of TrailBlazer sales and 37 percent of Envoy sales.
Flores credited the absence of injuries to GM workers to emphasis on safety procedures. The plant had a tornado "take-shelter" drill three weeks ago and tested its tornado alarm earlier Thursday.