Mercedes, Volvo halt U.S. plants in wake of deadly storm

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Volvo’s plant, which employs 1,500 people, stopped making the Volvo S60 at about 11 a.m. local time (5 p.m. CEST) on Thursday.

The factory will be closed Friday, Sept. 30, a spokesman told Automotive News Europe, adding that the automaker aims to resume output on Monday.

The closure is not expected to have any impact on the scheduled production starts for the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3 premium large electric SUVs, spokesmen for the two brands confirmed.

Focus on safety

“Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Ian on the greater Charleston area and to focus on the safety of our team members our facility in Ladson, South Carolina, will be closed tomorrow,” Mercedes spokeswoman Andrea Berg said in a Thursday statement.

The Mercedes plant in Ladson, South Carolina, outside Charleston, employs about 1,600 people and builds the Mercedes Sprinter and Metris vans.

A spokesman for BMW, which has a plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, said the company’s operations were far enough upstate that they were unaffected.

Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to regain hurricane strength over the Atlantic and hit South Carolina with a life-threatening storm surge on Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Water levels could rise as high as 2.1 meters (seven feet) near Charleston, which is about 60 km (35 miles) southeast of the factory.

Governors in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia have declared emergencies in advance of Ian’s arrival.

More than 2.6 million Florida homes and businesses are without power, and officials have warned some of the grid must be completely rebuilt. It remains unclear how many people were killed by the storm. President Joe Biden said early indications suggest that there could be a significant death toll.

“We’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” Biden said at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In Florida, the damage estimates from Ian are in the tens of billions, with AccuWeather forecasting $100 billion.

Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report

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