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Toyota keeps 12 key assembly plants shut through Tuesday

16 March 2011

Toyota keeps 12 key assembly plants shut through Tuesday

Toyota said it will keep all of its 12 main assembly plants in Japan closed through Tuesday, following last Friday's devastating earthquake. The closing of the factories since Monday has already resulted in lost production of 40,000 vehicles.

Toyota also said on Wednesday that it would resume production of spare parts on Thursday at seven plants near its base in Toyota City, in central Japan, to be shipped to service centres for repairs to Toyota vehicles already on the road.

On Monday, Toyota will also begin making car parts at the same factories for assembly plants overseas, the company said.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and tiremaker Bridgestone reopened plants today that were shut after the magnitude-9.0 quake off the coast of northern Japan, which may have killed as many as 10,000 people.

Japan's "automotive industry is facing acute and unprecedented problems relating to component and power-supply shortages," Paul Newton, a London-based auto analyst for IHS Automotive.

Toyota may lose 95,000 units of production, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman. And the automakers profit may be reduced by 6.5 billion yen ($80 million) for each day of lost output, said analyst Koji Endo at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.

The absence of component supplies and adequate power will make it difficult even for the least-affected automakers to resume production this week, IHS's Newton said.

Honda and Mazda Motor Corp. have said all their plants in Japan will be closed until March 20. Suzuki Motor Corp. planned to keep all factories in the nation shut until March 21.

Nissan, meanwhile, said it would resume production on Thursday, March 17, and Friday, March 18, at its Kyushu plant while supply inventory lasted. Operations after Saturday, March 19, were yet to be decided, Nissan said.

"Although all plants, except for the Iwaki engine plant, have been able to repair some damaged facilities and/or equipment, it is still taking time to arrange delivery of parts from our suppliers," Nissan said in a statement. "As for the Iwaki engine plant, with aftershocks still heavily impacting the region, restoration activities are expected to take longer than at other plants," it added. Operations at the automaker's Oppama, Tochigi and Yokohama and Nissan Shatai plants were suspended until March 20.

Parts maker JATCO's Fuji and Fujinomiya plants had also suspended operations, Nissan said, adding that damage to buildings and equipment was being assessed.

Mitsubishi resumed production at its three plants in central and western Japan, Yuki Murata, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carmaker, said today. The factories will continue running tomorrow, though no decision has been made about continuing output after that, the company said.

Bridgestone, the world's biggest tire maker, reopened three plants in Tochigi prefecture, two of which will begin deliveries of tires for cars, trucks and motorcycles beginning March 18, according to a statement.

None of Toyota's factories in the northern Tohoku region hit by the tsunami sustained serious damage, the company said. Toyota sent 60 employees to Tohoku to assist workers and their families and assess factory damage, Nolasco said.

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