DETROIT — General Motors said it expects all 13 of its Michigan manufacturing facilities to return to normal operations after they were idled due to a utility fire that limited availability of natural gas during record cold weather. Fiat Chrysler and Ford also were prepared to resume normal operations on Friday.
GM late Thursday said many of the plants will begin operating at midnight, followed by the remaining facilities throughout Friday. The company reinstated “limited operations” at five of the facilities earlier in the day.
The automaker voluntarily idled the locations, including four assembly plants — Flint Assembly, Lansing Delta Township, Lansing Grand River and Orion Assembly — and nine supporting operations to conserve energy after a fire involving equipment of Consumers Energy Co. reduced natural gas supplies in the state.
GM also shut down nonmanufacturing operations at its Warren Tech Center, Pontiac propulsion campus and Grand Blanc customer care and aftersales headquarters. Those employees were told to work from home until Monday.
Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles canceled the first two shifts on Thursday at its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights assembly plants near Detroit but said later Thursday it planned to resume full production at the plants with the first shift on Friday.
Ford Motor Co. reduced heating levels at its Livonia Transmission and Van Dyke plants, stopped heat treatment processes at Sterling Axle and shut down the paint process at Michigan Assembly. The paint operations were expected to be reinstated Thursday night.
Michigan is among the Midwestern states that have experienced record cold temperatures this week, shutting numerous schools, businesses and government offices. Temperatures throughout the region remained below zero degrees Fahrenheit for most of Thursday.
At the affected GM manufacturing plants, second-shift workers were sent home Wednesday and third-shift employees, where applicable, were told not to come to work.
The temporary shutdown for supporting facilities affected all GM manufacturing operations in Flint and Pontiac, a transmission plant in Warren and two stamping operations in Lansing as well as other operations in Saginaw and Bay City.
Other GM plants in Michigan, such as Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Romulus Powertrain, Brownstown Battery and Grand Rapids Operations are not affected. They are serviced by a different utility, Carpenter said.