A tornado damaged the Toyoda Gosei automotive sealing plant in Hopkinsville, Ky., on Monday -- creating new gaps in an already threatened U.S. supply chain.
The tornado caused significant damage to the building in the finished goods area and the plant is relying on a backup generator until power can be restored, Toyoda Gosei Co. spokesman John Wells confirmed. Seven employees were taken to the hospital afterward, although none received life threatening injuries. The plant has 184 employees. Officials are assessing the damage and developing a timeline to determine when the facility can be reopened, he said.
The plant supplies body-sealing and weather-stripping products to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co., according to Lee Conrad, director of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Economic Development Council. Wells would not confirm the county's information on the plant's customers.
Among the vehicles that will be affected are the Toyota Sequoia, Sienna and Highlander, which are produced at the automaker's Princeton, Ind., plant, and the Ford F-250 and F-350, which are produced at the Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville, Conrad said. Wells would not confirm which models the plant supplies.
Ford spokesman Todd Nissan said the sealing plant is a tier 2 supplier to Kentucky Truck and the automaker doesn't expect any supply issues.
Toyota spokeswoman Tania Saldana said the automaker is working with the supplier to understand the situation, but the impact is not known at this time.
Nissan did not have a comment as of this afternoon.
Honda spokesman Ed Miller said the tornado has had no impact on Toyoda Gosei's ability to supply parts to the automaker.
Wells said Toyoda Gosei is considering transferring production to its sealing plant in Waterville, Quebec. No decisions have been made at this point, he added.
Sixty percent of the products produced at the plant are supplied to Toyota, Conrad said. The automaker had a 42.85 percent stake in the plant's Japanese parent company, Toyoda Gosei Co., as of March 31 last year, according to the company's latest investor profile.
More supply chain disruption
In the wake of the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, supplier shortages have led to slowed production at many North American plants. Ford has already shut down its Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville this week because of a shortage of an unidentified component from Japan. Nissan has scheduled downtime for six days during April at its Smyrna, Tenn.; Decherd, Tenn.; and Canton, Miss., plants. Its two Mexican plants will be down five days during the month.
Today, Chrysler Group announced it would restrict overtime at its Brampton, Ontario, plant and its Toluca, Mexico, plant. Honda North America cut output in half at its eight U.S. and Canadian plants through at least April 15.
Shortages also have hit General Motors, which closed its Shreveport, La., plant back in March, and Toyota, which has suspended overtime at all 13 of its North American plants.