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Oracle of Delphi

Mexican production may not resume until Tuesday

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Stephen Downer

Automotive News

September 14, 2007 - 3:01 pm EST

MEXICO CITY — It may take until Tuesday, Sept. 18, for six auto assembly plants in Mexico to resume production.

The plants suspended operations as a result of bomb attacks Monday, Sept. 10, on energy pipelines in southern Mexico.

Natural gas supplies should resume gradually between Sunday night, Sept. 16, and early Monday. Martha Avelar, a spokeswoman for Mexican energy monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, told Automotive News today. Normal supplies probably will be restored by midday or late afternoon Tuesday, she added.

If service is restored Monday, it would likely take until Tuesday’s first shift for automakers to resume production.

“The matter of the explosions of Pemex (pipelines) has really kept us all busy and worried,” Cesar Flores, president of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association, told Automotive News today in an e-mail.

Plants with suspended operations are:

* Volkswagen’s Puebla plant, which makes Jettas, New Beetles and Jetta/Bora/Golf variant cars.

* Chrysler’s Toluca plant, which makes PT Cruiser cars.

* General Motors’ Toluca plant, which makes Chevrolet C-series and Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty trucks.

* GM’s Silao plant, which makes Chevrolet Suburban and Avalanche SUVs, Silverado pickups, GMC Sierra pickups and Yukon SUVs and Cadillac Escalade EXT SUVs.

* Ford Motor Co.’s Cuautitlan plant, which makes F-series trucks and Fiesta Ikon sedans.

* Honda Motor Co.’s El Salto Jalisco plant, which is converting production from Accord sedans to CR-V crossovers. It also is a major exporter of bumpers for Honda vehicles made in the United States and Canada.

About 200 suppliers in Mexico, including Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp., also have shut down because of the lack of natural gas or because customers told them to stop delivering parts.

Angel Antonio Sanchez, public relations manager for GM in Mexico, said this week that GM had inventories to satisfy demand. But if the natural gas service is not restored by Wednesday, Sept. 19, “the situation could become serious,” he added.

A leftist rebel group, the People’s Revolutionary Army, said it set the explosives to try to force the federal government to release two of its members, allegedly detained by government agents. The government denied all knowledge of the two men.

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