A violent tornado hit Tuscaloosa County in Alabama Wednesday, with the Mercedes-Benz Vance plant in its path of destruction. The plant manufactures the 2nd generation M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, and R-Class minivan.

The plant's employee fitness center and a roof at one of the plant's auxiliary buildings were severely damaged, while downed trees smashed employees' personal vehicles parked outside the building. Morning shift employees were sent home and the plant closed.

Aside from the damage, the storm system also caused disruptions in receiving parts from automotive suppliers. Mercedes uses a "just in time" method, in which automotive parts are delivered to the plant precisely when needed. Company spokeswoman, Felyicia Jerald, said power outages prevented some suppliers from running machinery and getting parts delivered.

It is not known if any of the suppliers' plants sustained any damage from the storm, or if there were any problems of any roadways blocked near the plant. With heavy storm systems continuing to sweep the area, Mercedes management is assessing the situation to determine when the plant will reopen.

Source: Tuscaloosa News