Toyota's quake-hit Yaris plant offline for at least another monthWed, 30 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Toyota's quake-hammered Miyagi assembly plant, which makes the Yaris small car for export to the United States, is expected to be offline for at least another month.
Workers have completed repairs at the factory and restored electricity, but the facility cannot get supplies of natural gas, a person familiar with the situation said.
The assessment underscores the long road facing Toyota and other Japanese automakers in bringing plants back into full operation following the deadly quake, which killed more than 11,000 people, ruptured gas lines, shutdown electric grids and snarled logistics across half the country.
Toyota has resumed limited Japanese production of three hybrid models, including the popular Toyota Prius, but the rest of its 18 domestic assembly plants remain shuttered indefinitely.
A Toyota supplier said his company was informed by a Toyota purchasing executive that the hybrid lines are operating at only half their capacity.
While the Yaris plant is expected to be down until at least late April, the rest of the automaker's domestic plants -- making up the bulk of the Toyota and Lexus lineups -- are expected to remain closed until at least April 14, the person said, citing the Toyota executive. Reuters has reported, also citing a supplier, that Toyota has informed parts makers that widespread production won't begin until at least April 11.
Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett could not confirm a timeline for reopening operations in Miyagi or other assembly plants. The only production underway this week is for the Toyota Prius and Lexus HS250h and Lexus CT 200h hybrids.
That output was scheduled to take a break today and resume on Thursday.
Toyota issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was still assessing parts supply and inventories. It did not forecast a restart date, but warned: "Depending on vehicle type, there may be a significant impact on our production capabilities."
Toyota's Miyagi factory gets its gas from a plant in nearby Sendai that was badly damaged in the March 11 earthquake. The plant is expected to be out of commission for at least a month, the other source said.
"We are searching for alternative sources, including gas from Niigata," the source said, referring to a nearby prefecture. "But that would also take about one month to arrange."
In the meantime, Central Motors has delayed plans to shift Corolla production to the new plant in Miyagi, from its old plant in Sagamihara, just south of Tokyo. Central had planned to bring Corolla production to Miyagi in April and then shut the Sagamihara plant.
But it will keep building the Corolla at Sagamihara and move it to Miyagi in May, he said. Those Corollas are made for the domestic Japanese market.
Overall parts management is being now being centrally controlled by Toyota headquarters in Toyota City, the person said. They are organizing parts deliveries and production on a case by case basis for each factory and still trying to determine when full production can resume.
By Hans Greimel- Automotive News