General Motors lost production of extended versions of its popular mid-sized SUVs Thursday, May 8, when a tornado struck its Oklahoma City plant.
The twister was one of several that hit the South and Midwest last week, interrupting work at a range of suppliers. No employees died in the storms, which killed more than 40.
Two supplier drivers received minor injuries when the Oklahoma City tornado struck at 5:30 p.m. CDT, says GM spokesman Dan Flores. GM workers took shelter when an alarm sounded about 20 minutes before the tornado hit.
GM sent workers home after the storm passed, halting production of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL. Flores says the plant's powerhouse, paint shop and body shop were damaged, but the company was just beginning to assess damage Friday, May 9.
The plant produced 7,445 TrailBlazer EXTs, 4,768 Envoys and 280 Isuzu Ascenders in April. GM says it has about 50,000 of the extended SUVs in inventory.
GM's Moraine, Ohio, plant, which makes five-seat versions of the TrailBlazer and Envoy, could make the extended versions, Flores says. But that plant already is running a three-crew, two-shift schedule.
Numerous supplier plants sustained damage from last week's storms. One tornado lifted the roof off of a 230,00-square-foot Johnson Controls Inc. seating component plant in Lexington, Tenn. The plant was closed for about 36 hours.
Damage to a Yazaki North America Inc. sequencing center outside of Nashville, Tenn., threatened to halt production at Nissan North America Inc. in Smyrna, Tenn., when Yazaki's computer-based production and delivery system was knocked out. After two days of manual work, Yazaki re-established the computer system.
Tornadoes also damaged both PolyOne plants in Dyersburg, Tenn., virtually destroyed Owens Corning's fabrication plant in Springfield, Tenn., and ripped a 100-foot hole in the roof of the TBDN Tennessee Co., a plant in Jackson, Tenn.
Staff Reporters Julie Cantwell Armstrong and Lindsay Chappell and Plastics News Staff Reporter Rhoda Miel contributed to this report