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Global automakers output hit by China snow storms

by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Jan 30, 2008
Fierce, driving snow storms in China disrupted global automakers' production at their joint venture factories owing to a lack of workers, parts and energy, the companies said Wednesday.

Ford Motor shut its Ford and Mazda assembly, engine and research plants in Nanjing from Monday as the eastern city was forced to close icy roads and bridges after being pounded by the worst snow storm in five decades.

"It would be very dangerous to ask the employees to come to the plant," said Lynn Ouyang, a spokeswoman for the Detroit, Michigan carmaker, adding she did not know when production would resume.

Freezing temperatures and unrelenting snow has left Nanjing buried under a blanket of heavy snow, prompting the government to call on energy-guzzling factories to curtail production to help ease home-use natural gas shortages.

"We use gas for air conditioning of the factory and also for drying paint on our products," said a Mazda spokeswoman.

The heavy snowfall across east, south and southwest China have left more than 50 dead, ravaged power and supplies and hit millions of people trying to get home for the Lunar New Year festival, the nation's most important holiday.

At Nanjing auto, owners of the iconic British brand MG, production had been halted, company spokesman Lu Qiang said. He added that he hoped the plant could restart partial production as early as Wednesday.

A company spokesman said that the loss in production would be made up at a later date.

Meanwhile, in China's south where the ongoing storms have wreaked havoc on travel schedules, stranding millions and delayed millions of dollars worth of goods, several of Japan's key auto makers had halted production.

Industry leader Toyota stopped the night shift at a joint venture factory in Guangdong province, company spokeswoman Kayo Doi.

Another factory in Tianjin, in the north, was shut from Wednesday morning because of problems with the supply of parts, she said, adding that it was unclear how long the disruption would continue.

The storms have also affected Honda, which shut its joint venture factory in Guangdong on Tuesday and another one in China's central province of Hubei on Wednesday because paint did not arrive on time.

The factory in Guangdong resumed operations on Wednesday, however, a Honda spokeswoman said.

Nissan Motor Co. also closed its joint venture factories in Guangdong and Hubei provinces on Monday and Tuesday.

In Shanghai, where light snow resumed falling Wednesday, Shanghai Auto, which partners with Germany's Volkswagen and General Motors of the US, said it had sent workers home on Tuesday.

But Volkswagen spokesman Kai Grueber said its factories here and in the northeast had yet to be affected.

George Yang, spokesman for GM said his company was still in working on new schedules for plants in Shanghai and in Guangxi province, in the south.

Meanwhile, Chery Auto, China's fourth largest and independent carmaker, had partially stopped production at its plants in Hubei and Anhui province in the east, a manager said.

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China's auto production to exceed 10 mln in 2008: official
Beijing (AFP) Jan 28, 2008
China's auto output is expected to top 10 million units for the first time ever this year, an official told a briefing in Beijing on Monday.

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