Both manufacturers have factories near Charleston, South Carolina.
Hurricane Ian continues to wreak havoc in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Yesterday we reported about an owner losing a McLaren P1 just one week after he bought it, but now the hurricane is directly impacting the automotive manufacturing industry.
On Thursday, Ian was downgraded to tropical storm status but was expected to return to hurricane force by Friday. As a result, Volvo ran its plant near Charleston idle on Thursday, while production ceased entirely on Friday. Mercedes-Benz, which also has a plant in the same region, shut down operations on Friday.
It's unclear when operations will start, as the weather services continue to warn residents against possible flooding and tornados.
While stoppages can cost millions daily, neither manufacturing facility is responsible for high-volume models.
Mercedes Benz Group AG - Charleston Assembly Plant is responsible for assembling the Sprinter and Metris vans. The Charleston Plant opened in 2018 following a $500 million investment. It employs 1,600 people directly and an additional 600 people via the supply chain.
Volvo's Charleston operations are more substantial. Volvo first broke ground in 2015, and the plant started building the Volvo S60 in 2018. The plant has two car lines and will produce the XC90 successor. We got our first glimpse of the all-new EX90 earlier this month.
"Hurricane Ian has the potential to impact our US operations," a Volvo said in a statement to Automotive News. "The safety of our employees and their families is our highest priority. Therefore, our Ridgeville plant halted operations at 11 am and will remain closed through Friday."
The hurricane might also have an impact on a dealer level, though news so far has been good. The Ashbury Automotive Group has 24 locations in Florida, and it closed shop on Tuesday. "Most of our car inventory was moved indoors into service areas or parking garages, so they were protected from the wind and debris," spokeswoman Angela Hong said.
According to the Central Florida Auto Dealers Association, most dealers are in good shape, and a Florida Automobile Dealers Association statement said the same.
It's at least one silver lining in the dark part shortage cloud that continues to hover over the automotive industry. With manufacturing levels at a low, there isn't stock to send to dealerships. In addition to the ongoing semiconductor shortage, there are now reports of a possible glass shortage, not to mention Ford's rather embarrassing badge shortage.
Some dealers expect to resume business by tomorrow, but we don't see that happening. The White House announced a state of emergency in South Carolina late Thursday night, while roughly 23% of Florida is already left without power.