Automakers suspend production due to Arctic blast

Automakers suspend production due to Arctic blast
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Automobile manufacturers have been forced to temporarily suspend production at multiple plants across the country amid severe winter storms and freezing temperatures. 

General Motors on Tuesday halted production at its pickup truck plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., as arctic temperatures, snow and ice hit the Midwest, the Detroit Free Press first reported. 

GM spokesman David Barnas told The Hill that the first and second shifts Tuesday have been canceled at the company's Fort Wayne plant as well as at its production assemblies in Texas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Barnas added that the status of evening shifts has yet to be determined. 

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The closures come after the company announced shift cancellations Monday in Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, though the plant in Missouri was running normally as of Tuesday. 

The Free Press noted that Monday’s closures impacted approximately 8,000 workers, with Tuesday’s production halts affecting roughly 4,800 employees. 

The Free Press also reported that a spokesperson for Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, suspended production Tuesday at its Toledo, Ohio, assembly complex due to a “local emergency” caused by “weather-related issues.” 

Ford Motor Co. announced on Monday that it was shutting down production at its Missouri plant for a full week amid the winter storms. Kelli Felker, the company's global manufacturing and labor communications manager, told the Free Press that the "availability of natural gas could be restricted in the Kansas City area in the coming days" due to cold temperatures. 

"To ensure we minimize our use of natural gas that is critical to heat people’s homes, we have decided to cancel operations," she added. 

Other vehicle manufacturers, including Nissan and Toyota, have also suspended production at some of their North American plants. 

Winter storms have battered multiple parts of the U.S. in recent days, especially in the South, which very rarely sees heavy snow and harsh winters. 

Millions of people throughout Texas have lost power, prompting Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to release a statement Tuesday calling on the state legislature to investigate the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. 

CNBC reported Tuesday that the harsh weather in Texas could temporarily increase gas prices by 10 cents per gallon in the next few days as refineries in the state deal with the storm and related power outages.