Heavy rains batter auto production in India's Detroit

CHENNAI, India (Reuters) - Heavy rains in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state 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 on Wednesday, 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 on Wednesday,” 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 4 percent on Wednesday.

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.

Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Clara Ferreira Marques; Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Ryan Woo