AUTO INDUSTRY

GM reopening slowed by supply problems

General Motors is delaying the start of second production shifts at two pickup plants as auto manufacturers trying to ramp up production after weeks-long shutdowns struggle to procure enough parts.

GM originally planned to run two shifts next week at the factories in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Flint, Mich., according to a company spokesman. While a sport-utility-vehicle facility elsewhere in the company’s home state is still on track to boost output, the truck plants’ suppliers in Mexico — which have been resuming work more slowly — may need another week to catch up.

The delay, which will further crimp supply of GM’s redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, is the latest supplier-related disruption to hit automakers that have been restarting operations that were shut down for weeks. Ford Motor, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have all had to pause some U.S. production because of parts shortages.

Earlier this week, Ford halted production at its Explorer SUV plant in Chicago for the second time in as many days after a worker at a nearby supplier facility tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

For GM, Mercedes and Volvo, the issue has been Mexico’s restart. The nation’s government has issued conflicting and vague decrees on what factories need to do before they will be allowed to reopen, contributing to delays that have slowed production at U.S. factories reliant on imported parts.

The constraints led Mercedes to suspend production of GLS and GLE SUVs and C-Class sedans in Alabama this week, while Volvo was forced to temporarily idle its S60 sedan factory in South Carolina.

— Bloomberg News

PHARMACEUTICALS

Phexxi birth control gel gets FDA approval

A new birth control gel has become the first non-hormonal contraceptive to win FDA approval in decades, bringing another option to the $5.4 billion market.

The gel, marketed as Phexxi by Evofem Biosciences, works by making pH levels in the vagina inhospitable to sperm when applied up to an hour before sex.

The approval marks a rare new option in the contraceptive market, which has been dominated by pills for the past 60 years. The last wholly new type of birth control without hormones was the female condom, approved in 1993.

“This is for women who aren’t using hormonal contraceptive, who want to prevent against pregnancy and won’t use an IUD (intrauterine device),” said Evofem chief executive Saundra Pelletier. “Our product is the only contraceptive product with no hormones, with no systemic side effects, and that women use only when they need it.”

Oppenheimer analyst Leland Gershell forecasts annual sales in the U.S. could reach $440 million by 2024.

The company is still working on the exact pricing. However, it anticipates health insurance companies will pay between $250 and $275 per pack of 12 prefilled applicators.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

Deere on Friday topped quarterly sales and profit estimates and forecast a smaller-than-expected fall in farm equipment sales for the year, signaling a recovery in demand for its harvesters and tractors. Deere's fresh forecast comes more than a month after President Trump announced a $19 billion relief program to help U.S. farmers cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The company's sales were likely to benefit from the additional liquidity, analysts have said.

The oil and natural gas capital of the world is going all-in on solar power. Houston will begin a new five-year contact in July with NRG Energy to power all city-owned properties, from fire stations to airports, with renewable energy. The move means the nation's fourth-largest city will reach its goal of 100 percent renewable power five years sooner than anticipated.

— From news services