General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., will be closed for repairs after a tornado started a fire at the plant early Dec. 11, the automaker said.
Several tornadoes tore through six states Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, killing more than 80 people in the latest official estimates, and causing catastrophic damage.
The fire "has caused damage to the facility, including the roof and an employee entrance. The small number of employees that were onsite are all safe," GM said in a statement. "Maintaining a safe work environment for plant employees is our top priority."
The Corvette is made with a composite body, with outside suppliers providing body panels and other key parts.
GM said first and second shifts at the factory would be canceled the week of Dec. 13 as "as our trained teams work to get tooling, equipment, and the facility space up to standard."
The plant employs about 1,200 hourly workers, represented by UAW Local 2164, along with about 180 salaried workers.
U.S. sales of the Corvette sports car nearly doubled in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2020. GM sold 24,748 Corvettes through September, compared with 12,634 a year earlier, when production was paused for eight weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
GM idled production at the plant in March and again in October and November 2020 due to a parts shortage separate from the microchip crisis that has hampered auto output globally.
Other automakers in the region were not immediately reporting damage to their facilities, although some auto suppliers have been impacted. TMS Automotive, a sequencing and sub-assembly supplier also located in Bowling Green, was badly damaged, according city officials.
Magna International Inc. has a facility near the TMS plant in Bowling Green, but it sustained only minor damage.
“No employees were injured at the facility, which remains without powerm" Tracy Fuerst, vice president of corporate communications at Magna told Plastics News in an emailed statement. :We are staying in close communications with our customers and working with local authorities to restore power and production when possible. Our hearts are with all those affected.”
Plastics News will post updates related to storm damage as they become available.
Toyota Motor Corp., in a statement, said the storm's impact on operations appears to be minimal and there are no known team members impacted. The automaker said it's also not aware of any suppliers impacted, according to a preliminary assessment.
Toyota said there were no known injuries to dealer personnel, but several were without power and at least one dealership experienced facility damage.
Sarah Kominek of Plastics News contributed to this report.