Heaviest rainfall in a century in Tamil Nadu batters auto production in India’s Detroit

Chennai, December 2

Heavy rains in Tamil Nadu have battered one of the country’s largest auto manufacturing hubs and forced plants to shut for the second time in less than a month, crippling production and deliveries from the region.

Ford, Daimler and Nissan were among the automakers who told employees to stay home today, as the heaviest rainfall in a century made it impossible to cross low-lying areas around the main city of Chennai.

“Everyone is at home. Yesterday, workers were sent home after a half day, and today we are shut. Tomorrow too, probably,” said an official at Daimler India, which produces commercial vehicles outside Chennai.

Ford said it had also shut its plant, with an annual capacity of 340,000 engines and 200,000 vehicles.

“For the safety of our employees, we have halted production at our Chennai assembly and engine plants today,”

a spokesman said. “We are carefully monitoring the situation and will return to normal operations as soon as conditions improve.”

The area outside Chennai is known as ‘India’s Detroit’ for its concentration of automakers. Others in the rain-lashed area include Renault-Nissan, Hyundai Motor Co and motorcycle maker TVS Motor, whose shares were down almost four per cent today.

A Renault-Nissan India spokesman said the automaker would be cancelling shifts, but aimed to resume operations once conditions improved as there had been no damage to its plant.

Spokespeople for Daimler, Hyundai and TVS were not immediately reachable for comment.

Chennai Petroleum may shut unit

NEW DELHI: Chennai Petroleum Corp Ltd may shut one of the three crude units at its 210,000 barrels per day (bpd) Manali refinery in flood-hit Tamil Nadu, Managing Director Gautam Roy said on Wednesday. “Refinery operations are normal as of now. We are deliberating and may bring down one of the crude units as due to rains there is water-logging outside the refinery. Also, manpower is less,” Roy said. Chennai Petroleum’s 20,000 bpd Nagapattinam refinery in Tamil Nadu was also operating normally, he added. Chennai Petroleum is a unit of Indian Oil Corp.