By on September 20, 2017

earthquake damaged car (public domain)

Automakers spent Wednesday surveying factory sites in Central Mexico after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake ravaged the region Tuesday evening. However, after some momentary shutdowns, it’s looking like business as usual for most manufacturers. Despite countless injuries, over 200 fatalities, and widespread damage yet to be fully assessed, the automotive industry emerged from the quake largely unscathed.

Arguably the hardest hit, Volkswagen Group’s Puebla plant temporarily halted assembly so workers could inspect buildings for damage. Finding no significant structural harm, factory employees resumed third-shift production of the Jetta and Golf.

Audi’s crossover plant, also in the state of Puebla, sustained no obvious damage. It’s second shift was halted early on Tuesday as well. The company said third-shift production was canceled so that employees could attend to their loved ones after the quake.

Nissan similarly underwent a temporary shutdown on Tuesday and sent workers home for the remainder of the day in order to conduct a structural investigation of the site. “We will assess those facilities for damage before determining when they can return to safe operation. We expect to have more to share in the coming days,” the company said in an official statement.

While most other manufactures operate sites further away from the quake’s epicenter, south of Mexico City, Fiat Chrysler Toluca Car Assembly is only a little over an hour away. The factory would have been among the closest to ground zero, but FCA has yet to release any information on the status of its facilities. However, Ford said its Cuautitlán Assembly went undamaged despite its proximity to the Mexican capital.

Toyota and General Motors’ Mexican-based plants were both too far north to have been seriously affected.

Shipping lines are also largely unaffected. Preliminary infrastructure assessments indicate minimal destruction beyond city centers, despite the strength of the earthquake. Most roadways and rail lines remained intact, while shipping ports were too far away to have suffered from the incident.

[Source: Automotive News]

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8 Comments on “Mexican Auto Industry Undeterred by 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake...”

  • avatar

    Top pic courtesy of Terremotomóviles Audi de Puebla, SA.

  • avatar
    Southern Perspective

    Nissan’s Cuernavaca plant is in the affected area; their much larger Aguascalientes complex is far away to the Northwest.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    I’m sure everyone’s first thought when they heard the news of a major earthquake in Mexico was “OMG, I hope the supply of cheap Jettas and Compasses isn’t disrupted!”

    The offhand dismissal of 200+ fatalities near the start of this article is pretty disrespectful.

    • 0 avatar

      Point taken. Mexico City is filled with brittle buildings. The one that bombed the pictured Audi is an example of the type. Think about getting into that car just as the earthquake hit. I’d wager that there is little or no rebar in the building. I’d also wager that the manufacturing facilities incorporate the lessons learned over the past decades in creating a safer earthquake resistant building. I’d also wager that the manufacturers – some of them at least – didn’t build on soils that behave as badly as the former Lake Texcoco, ie. Mexico City. If you must build with concrete or block, lots of rebar is your friend. The butcher’s bill in lives will be paid as the really bad buildings are winnowed out.

  • avatar

    The ’85 quake which greatly devastated Mexico City was centered pretty far away, close to where my then in-laws lived in Michoacan. Not a single piece of the clay tile balanced on the poles of the roof of their house was disturbed by that larger quake. Mexico City with its shaky lake bed foundation and 220 miles away got hammered.

  • avatar

    The pictures and videos coming out of Mexico City are horrifying. I’ve seen the aftermath of a few earthquakes (I’m a structural engineer) and it’s not a new story. The city is basically built on a bowl of jello that amplifies the ground motions. Here in San Francisco, parts of the city had a similar effect in 1989, with the Cypress superstructure and buildings in the Marina District built on low-quality fill. That earthquake would not otherwise have been a major one in SF, given the distance to the epicenter.

    One major reason the auto industry is fine is that its facilities are relatively new and they’ve actually been engineered. The one in the photo either precedes building codes or ignored them. That’s common here too (buildings designed before adequate codes – it’s harder to get away with ignoring them), especially because we keep learning about earthquakes so our old codes weren’t all that great.

  • avatar

    Natural disasters are generally unforgiving if you build over/near former lakes, swamps, and river beds. Taking some care on your sighting and building standards always pays (relative) dividends.

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