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UPDATE 4-Automakers pause North American production on U.S. winter weather

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Sharay Angulo
·2 min read
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(Recasts first sentence with Nissan and Toyota, adds commentfrom Toyota in Mexico)

By Sharay Angulo

MEXICO CITY, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Freezing weather thatinterrupted gas supplies in the southern United States andMexico was wreaking havoc on Thursday on car manufacturingplants on both sides of the border, with Ford Motor Co,Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Toyota Motor Corpreporting disruptions to their assembly lines.

The cold snap has overwhelmed Texas' power grid, whilenatural gas supplies to Mexico from Texas were interrupted,leaving millions without power in Mexico's industrial northernstates earlier in the week.

In Texas, freezing temperatures are expected to last throughSaturday.

Mexico generates most of its power from natural gas, largelyimported from the United States. The two countries also requireintricate supply chains to be functional to supply auto andother industrial operations on both sides of the border.

In six Mexican states, significant power cuts contributed tothe suspension of operations at auto assembly plants, accordingto Mexican auto association AMIA.

Some car factories also use natural gas on their productionlines. Fewer supplies have meant at least five plants reportedcutting their consumption of the fuel by between 20% and 30%since Tuesday, the association added.

Ford on Thursday said adverse weather had led to thetemporary closure of plants in Kansas City, Michigan andKentucky, as well as a plant in Hermosillo in the northernMexican border state of Sonora.

Late on Wednesday, Volkswagen said it wouldsuspend some production in Mexico on Thursday and Friday due tolimited natural gas supply. The cut in supply also affected Audias well as General Motors Co's plant in the central cityof Silao, where work stopped on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

GM said on Thursday that first-shift operations werecanceled at plants in Arlington, Texas; Spring Hill, Tennessee;and Bowling Green, Kentucky. The first two factories also wouldlikely be closed for the second shift.

Other automakers affected by the winter weather includeToyota and Nissan.

Toyota said its Texas plant would be idled through Friday,while first shifts would not operate on Thursday at plants inMississippi and Alabama. In Mexico, the automaker said it wouldreduce shifts and suspend work in the coming days at its plantsin Baja California and Guanajuato.

Nissan said production at plants in Smyrna, Tennessee, andCanton, Mississippi, remain suspended, and that in Mexico it washalting some production in Aguascalientes while seeking toquickly switch to liquefied petroleum gas at other plants.

Ford's Kansas City plant's operations have been canceledfrom Feb. 13-22, the company said.

Mexico, Latin America's second-largest economy, has reeledas gas imports via pipeline from Texas dropped by about 75% overthe last week, causing billions of dollars of losses on poweroutages and factory closures.

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo in Mexico CityAdditional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit,Writing by Drazen Jorgic and Daina Beth SolomonEditing by Frank Jack Daniel, Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis)