Toyota Motor (TM) reportedly won't resume vehicle production at any of its plants in Japan on Tuesday, as the automaker had planned. The continued stoppage leaves in question just how soon the world's largest automaker will be able to resume operations in its home market, following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
As Japan continues to struggle with rescue and cleanup efforts, Toyota's car manufacturing resumption efforts are on hold, the company told BBC News on Monday. The company plans to issue a statement Tuesday about whether it will resume production Wednesday.
In a statement last week, Toyota said it was halting production at all plants in Japan through March 22, following the quake that resulted in massive devastation and likely killed more than 10,000 people in northeast Japan.
But the company added, "A decision on when vehicle production will resume in Japan has yet to be made."
Toyota is, however, going ahead with its plan to resume some parts production, Bloomberg News reported. A spokesman for Toyota's European operations told the news agency that that car maker is producing parts for its home replacement market and overseas vehicle assembly, and is working to anticipate and avoid parts shortages at its European production lines.
Factories Across Nation Closed by Widespread Power Outages
Toyota isn't alone in its efforts to bring plants back online. Other Japanese manufacturers are struggling to restart factories following the quake, which led to widespread power outages caused in part by crippled nuclear reactors.
Electronics-maker Sony (SNE) has shut eight plants as workers inspect equipment and facilities. As with Toyota, Sony efforts to restart production are hamstrung by the disruption of the arrival of hundreds of different components from a variety of suppliers.
"This will be played out not in days, but in weeks," John Hoffecker, head of the automotive practice at Detroit consultancy AlixPartners told Bloomberg. "Nothing on this scale has really occurred before."
Honda Motor (HMC), Japan's third-largest automakers has halted operations at six plants, including three automobile factories. Nissan Motors (NSANY), which has also closed six plants, said Sunday it plans to restart production at five of them this week.
The continued shutdown of Honda and Toyota plants has lead to local shortages of certain car models in the U.S., such as the Toyota Prius hybrid and subcompact Honda Fit, both of which are manufactured solely in Japan.
Honda, which builds more than 80% of its vehicles for the U.S. market in North American plants, told U.S. dealers last week that the company has suspended orders for models built in Japan.
U.S. Plants Affected by Parts Shortages
The shutdown of Japanese plants has halted production at a General Motors (GM) plant in Louisiana that relies on transmissions made in Japan. The Shreveport Assembly plant employs nearly 1,000 workers who build Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon compact pickups.
GM said it would resume production as soon as possible and had sufficient vehicles on hand to meet customer demand, Reuters reported.
No other GM plants in North America have been affected.
Update: GM is halting some production at a plant in Buffalo, N.Y., that supplies engines for the pickup trucks built at Shreveport, the Associated Press reported Monday. The action will result in 59 workers being furloughed at the Buffalo plant, in addition to 800 job cuts in Shreveport. GM doesn't know when production will resume in Buffalo, AP said.
Other Japanese electronics companies, including Panasonic (PC), Fujitsu and Nikon, have also shuttered plants and don't yet know when they will be able to resume production.
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