Was Carolina tornado an industry monkey wrench?

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A Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman said last week the automaker is working closely with BorgWarner to manage the situation. The matter was addressed in a financial prospectus supplement Ford published at the end of last week,stating that Ford does not know whether the incident “will impact our plans to resume production of four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles.”

Ford said the damage could hamper the return of production for the four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the F-150, Expedition, Super Duty, Explorer and Transit and the Lincoln Navigator and Aviator.

Officials at Toyota Motor North America declined to comment on the situation, referring questions to BorgWarner.

BorgWarner spokeswoman Michelle Collins said last week assessment teams are examining the site, but it is still too early to know how severely damaged the building and its machinery are, how long it might take to rebuild or even what contingency steps might be taken to produce the transfer cases elsewhere if the industry attempts to resume vehicle manufacturing before the South Carolina factory can be rebuilt.

To add to the challenge, BorgWarner is limited in the assistance it can put on the site right now. The company’s headquarters is in suburban Detroit, and Michigan residents are under a state-issued shelter-in-place order. That is preventing the company from dispatching teams from Michigan to assist with the emergency.

As a result, the plant’s local management is handling the crisis, Collins said. Local civil engineers and third-party response teams are examining the wreckage to determine what might be salvaged.

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Saurabh Shukla

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