Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Automakers restart after blackout

By James Prichard
The Associated Press

DETROIT - U.S. automakers went back to work Monday, restarting factories and plants darkened by last week's massive power outage.

General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group resumed operations at all their affected U.S. factories, while Ford Motor Co. restarted all but one of its plants.

The automakers also reopened some of their plants in Ontario, but production at those locations remained limited because the province's power system remained several days away from returning to full strength following Thursday's blackout.

Detroit's Big Three automakers all expressed confidence that their companies will make up most of the lost production, but said it was too soon to estimate blackout-related costs.

"It's going to take us a while to get our arms around some of those facts," Ford spokesman Ed Lewis said.

Ford's small parts factory in Woodhaven, about 25 miles south of Detroit, did not restart with the rest of the company's plants because the loss of electricity damaged some equipment, Lewis said. He said the company was hoping to resume operations at Woodhaven by the end of the day Monday.

Spokesman Dan Bodene said all of DaimlerChrysler's U.S. plants were back to full production Monday with the exception of a Sterling Heights assembly plant that had previously been scheduled for a down week.

Uncertainties about power availability in Canada restricted operations there.

The Brampton assembly plant is DaimlerChrysler's only Ontario plant back to full production. The Windsor assembly plant will operate only a midnight shift for the time being and the Etobicoke casting plant was operating at 50 percent capacity, Bodene said.

Also, only one shift of workers reported Monday to some of Ford's six Ontario plants, to help save energy.

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