GM Restarts Louisiana Pickup Plant After Part Shortage
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — General Motors will resume regular production at its pickup plant in Shreveport on Monday, a week after the company shut it down and blamed a shortage of parts from Japan.
Falling supplies of auto parts have disrupted car factories around the world ever since a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11. That nation is a top producer of autos, but also parts, which aren't reaching car factories because of earthquake damage, power outages and transportation problems.
Doug Ebey, head of the United Auto Workers local, said Friday that the 800 employees at the Louisiana plant will resume their normal four-day work week on March 28. GM also confirmed the plant was reopening.
"We made the decision to restart Shreveport because we need to build trucks for our customers," said GM spokesman Kim Carpenter. The company makes the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado small pickups at the plant.
GM cited a lack of parts when it shut the plant this week. Hitachi, a Japanese company that makes electronic air sensors, reported that it ran out of some parts. GM uses electronic air sensors on its pickup trucks, and Hitachi supplies several GM models.
Carpenter declined to say which parts caused the shutdown.
GM's Shreveport plant was the first U.S. auto factory to shut production completely following the Japan disaster. Other car companies have trimmed production by running part-time schedules or eliminating overtime to conserve parts at North American sites.
Honda Motor Co. said Friday the shortage of Japanese parts will likely interrupt production at its North America plants after April 1. Spokesman Jeffrey Smith said interruptions are expected at Honda's two Ohio plants and at plants in Alabama, Indiana, Canada and Mexico until the issues are resolved.
Carpenter would not speculate on whether other shutdowns could happen in the future because of the earthquake. She said GM will continue to monitor the situation in Japan.
The company will also bring a Buffalo, NY, plant back to full production on Monday following a partial shutdown. That plant supplies engines for the pickups assembled in Shreveport.
GM has enough of the trucks in inventory that it would take more than two months to sell them all. The trucks could be at the plant, en route to showrooms or on dealer lots.
Separately, U.S. Mazda dealers are suspending orders for vehicles built in Japan because of disruption in the supply of parts.
James Amestoy, vice president of public affairs for Mazda's North American operations, says the company's plants weren't affected by the quake, but supply of parts from the northeastern part of Japan has been interrupted.
Production at Mazda's Hiroshima plant will be halted on Monday.
There are nearly 900 Mazda dealers in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Sharon Silke Carty in Detroit and JoAnne Viviano in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.