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Dec 22, 2019
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BorgWarner to start limited production at damaged S.C. plant in early May

April 29, 2020

BorgWarner is planning to resume limited production in early May at its Seneca, S.C., facility that was severely damaged by a tornado on April 13, the company said.

"We have teams on-site working on necessary repairs to the facility to make this happen in a safe and efficient way," BorgWarner spokeswoman Michelle Collins said Wednesday. "We appreciate the support of the Oconee community and the state of South Carolina, our neighbors and our customers during this time."

The parts factory was hit by a tornado in the early morning on April 13. A 77-year-old contract worker was killed at the time the tornado hit. Four employees also were at the plant at the time, but they suffered only minor injuries. Photos from the scene showed severe damage to the facility.

BorgWarner is telling employees that some workers will begin returning to work next week.

"Hello friends! The rumors are true ... we are officially restarting next week with LIMITED PRODUCTION," a message to employees on Facebook said on Wednesday. "Those who will be needed for next week, we will make sure you have that information no later than Thursday morning."

The facility makes transfer cases, an important component of four-wheel-drive systems that Ford Motor Co. uses in its F-150 pickup. Ford warned in a recent securities filing that the damaged plant could disrupt output for the pickup, its most profitable model.

The automaker also said that the damage could delay the return of production for the four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the Expedition, Super Duty, Explorer and Transit and the Lincoln Navigator and Aviator.

It also supplies for Toyota's North America-made trucks and possibly other vehicle lines. BorgWarner has declined to identify its customers or say how many models the Seneca plant supplies.

The company's headquarters is in suburban Detroit. Because Michigan residents are under a shelter-in-place order, the company was unable to dispatch teams from Michigan to assist with the emergency. The plant's local management has been handling the crisis, Collins said.

The plant employs 970 workers, according to a publication from a county government agency.