Automakers with plants in Mexico are breathing a sigh of relief after Hurricane Patricia, at one point the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, passed through the country with only minimal effects on production and logistics.
The hurricane, which had wind speeds of 165 mph as it made landfall Friday in a remote region of Mexico, quickly weakened as it moved inland over mountainous terrain, sparing automakers from significant damage or disruptions and the country from what many experts feared would be a major disaster.
Honda’s El Salto assembly plant and Nissan’s Aguascalientes plants, which were near Patricia’s forecasted path on Friday, were spared from any major damage.
Honda spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the El Salto plant, which produces the CR-V compact crossover, canceled its second and third shifts Friday in advance of the hurricane’s landfall but received no damage. The plant is operating at full strength today, he said.
Nissan spokeswoman Ariadna Lopez said the automaker’s Aguascalientes plants, which produce the Sentra, March, Versa and Versa Note, were not impacted by Patricia.
“It wasn’t as bad as we expected,” Lopez said.
Flooding streets and battering buildings, Patricia hit land in an isolated part of the shoreline as a Category 5 hurricane Friday evening before grinding inland. It moved quickly but lost power in the high mountains that rise up along the Pacific coast, limiting damage nationwide. It was downgraded to a tropical depression as it headed through central Mexico.
It appeared major damage was averted as Patricia missed Manzanillo, a major cargo port, and tourist centers such as Puerto Vallarta.
Experts said the storm’s speed meant it did not saturate the ground and trigger the major flooding feared in Mexico.
The Gulf Coast, however, was plummeted with several inches of rain over the weekend and into today in part due to the remnants of Patricia, leading to flooding and tornado watches throughout Texas and Louisiana. Total rainfall has surpassed 20 inches in Corsicana, Texas, southeast of Dallas, since Tuesday, while Houston received more than 7.5 inches and Dallas was hit with more than 8, according to The Weather Channel.
Fiat Chrysler, which has plants in Saltillo and Toluca, said it had no damage to report at its Mexican facilities. However, its Texas rail network was “moving slowly due to washouts that don’t directly impact automotive trains” and had delays in loading rail cars in Saltillo due to the storm’s rain, spokeswoman Katie Hepler said.
“We can expect some tight rail car supply over the next week, but no critical concerns at this point,” Hepler wrote in an email.
While Patricia had no impact on General Motors’ Mexico operations, the automaker is “taking actions to minimize [the] potential impact” of damage on the supply chain, a spokesman said.
“We will closely monitor storm damage in the coming days,” GM spokesman Bill Grotz said.
A spokeswoman for Ford said the company was “not seeing any impact” at its operations because of the hurricane.
Jack Walsworth and Reuters contributed to this report