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Magna plant fire slows GM, Mazda output, could hit other automakers

Magna plant fire slows GM, Mazda output, could hit other automakers
Laurén Abdel-Razzaq
and Dustin Walsh
Automotive News | March 3, 2011 – 10:43 am EST
UPDATED: 3/3/11 5:39 p.m. ET

DETROIT — General Motors Co. canceled production at a Flint, Mich., truck assembly plant Friday and shortened shifts at other North American plants, due to parts shortages caused by a fire at a Magna International Inc. interior trim plant in Michigan. Production at a Mazda plant in Michigan was also disrupted by the fire at the parts plant.

GM’s affected facilities and models include:

• Arlington, Tex.: Cadillac Escalade standard and hybrid models and the GMC Yukon standard and hybrid models.

• Detroit-Hamtramck, Mich.: Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne. Lordstown, Ohio: Chevrolet Cruze.

• Flint, Mich.: Chevrolet Silverado HD crew cab and LD regular cab, the GMC Sierra HD crew can and LD regular cab.

• Fort Wayne, Ind.: Chevrolet Silverado standard and hybrid models and the GMC Sierra standard and hybrid models.

• Oshawa Consolidated, Ontario: Chevrolet Impala and Equinox.

GM previously announced shortened shifts at its Delta Township plant in Lansing, Mich., where the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse are produced.

“Currently, we are running short shifts and changing overtime plans as we manage the situation,” GM spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter said. “We are working closely with the supplier to look at alternatives in an effort to resume production as quickly as possible.”

Impact on other automakers

The fire will also affect output of the Mazda6, which is produced at the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, Mich., said spokesman Jeremy Barnes. Among other components, Magna produces the headliner for the sedan.

“At this time, we do not know the length of the delay or how much production will be lost,” said Barnes.

Mazda is well-stocked with a 92-day supply of Mazda6 units. Ford also produces the Mustang at the Flat Rock plant.

The 187,000-square-foot Magna Atreum interiors plant in Howell — which supplies door panels, interior trim and instrument panels to GM, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co., Mazda and Nissan — caught fire late Wednesday afternoon.

It hasn’t been determined which product lines were destroyed in the fire as Magna officials have yet to be allowed near the facility. Firefighters are still on site extinguishing remaining “hot spots,” said Tracy Fuerst, director of corporate communications and media relations for Magna in Troy, Mich.

Magna response

To combat capacity issues, Magna intends to boost production at its interiors plants in Holt, Mich., and Ohio.

“Bottom line, we just don’t know until we see what product lines are damaged yet,” Fuerst said. “We are in contact with the supply base and customers. We’re looking at using all of Magna’s — and our customers’ — resources available to us.”

The Magna plant supplies interior components to Chrysler’s Toledo, Ohio, North Assembly Plant as well as the Windsor and Brampton Assembly plants in Ontario. The plants will continue to run normal shifts for now, Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said.

“As Magna assesses the damage and the impact on their production today, we will work with them to develop a plan to continue providing parts to our plants,” she said.

The Toledo plant produces the Dodge Nitro and the Jeep Liberty. The Brampton plant produces the 300 as well as the Dodge Charger and Challenger. The Windsor plant produces the Town & Country, the Voyager, the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Volkswagen Routan, through a joint operating agreement with the German automaker.

Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said the automaker is working with Magna to determine what parts were made at the plant and what vehicles could be affected. At this time, Nissen said there were no production issues.

Nissan has also yet to report any delays.

Previous interruptions

Weather-related delays and raw material shortages led to parts and production delays at numerous assembly plants in Canada and the U.S., including Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan and Chrysler’s minivan factory in Windsor.

Mike Wall, senior manager of strategic analysis for IHS Automotive Inc., said he expects the fire’s impact to be short-lived.

“Of all the suppliers out there, in terms of size and capacity, they (Magna) would be on the short list to be able to triage this quickly,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect this to create parts shortages past a few days or a week.”

The plant employs about 450 people and nobody was injured in the fire, Fuerst said.

Magna expects to be allowed entry to the plant later today to review the damage.

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