Tornadoes Force Mercedes-Benz and Toyota to Close Plants

Posted: April 29, 2011

The string of deadly tornadoes and storms that attacked the south, leaving at least 291 people dead, have also impacted Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, who halted production at their plants in the affected areas.

“On Wednesday, a mile-wide tornado destroyed parts of Tuscaloosa, Ala., damaging the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International auto-assembly plant just north of the city. That plant builds the GL, M, and R class vehicles,” writes Automotive News. “The same storm cell of multiple tornadoes wreaked havoc along a 300-mile stretch, taking out power to an unknown number of auto parts manufacturers and other businesses as far north as Virginia.”

On Wednesday, Tuscaloosa News, a publication based in Alabama, reported, “The early-morning storm caused damage at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance. Company spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald said a roof was damaged at one of the plant's auxiliary buildings, trees fell on employees' personal vehicles and the plant's employees' fitness center sustained heavy damage and has been closed.”

According to the New York Times, the plant will be closed for the remainder of the week and will reopen Monday. The publication adds, “Honda’s plant in Lincoln, Ala., did not sustain damage, according to the Automotive News report, but a Toyota plant in Huntsville, which builds V-6 and V-8 engines for Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks, had lost power and was closed.”

Like Honda, Hyundai’s factory did not sustain damage. “Hyundai Motor Co, which also has a plant in Alabama, said that its factory was outside of the range of the major storms and was not affected,” says Reuters.

Plant shut downs may remind you of the impact the tsunami and earthquake in Japan has had on the international automotive industry. The earthquake has had greater consequences, and while plants have closed for a few days in the United States, automakers have not shown concern for any long term impacts on production and parts deliveries.

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