Toyota releases new Japan production schedule updates, plus word on the Central Motors and Kanto plants

After continuing to assess the situation, Toyota has released the following schedule for the gradual restart of vehicle production, as noted on the carmaker’s USA and Global Newsrooms:

Thursday 17 March: Resumption of production of replacement parts at seven plants near Toyota City, in central Japan, to be shipped to service centers for repairs to Toyota vehicles already on the road.

Monday 21 March: Resumption of production of parts at the above Japanese factories for assembly plants overseas.

Tuesday 22 March: The current vehicle-production halt started on March 14 at all plants in Japan (including subsidiary vehicle manufacturers) has now been extended to this date. This decision is expected to cause the carmaker to lose 95,000 units of production.

Meanwhile, an Automotive News/AutoWeek article by Hans Griemel brings us the first updates on Toyota’s most imperiled facilities, in these passages:

Toyota Motor Corp. has released the first damage report for its northern Japanese factories in the region hammered by Friday’s massive earthquake, saying some equipment and fixtures will need repairs but that the plants sustained no major structural harm.

For days after the quake, Toyota had trouble contacting it plants in the northern Japan quake zone, making it difficult to assess their status.

One of two convoys of Toyota-dispatched relief trucks reached the area on Sunday, while another arrived Monday, the company said. The convoy – comprised of six water tankers, two fuel tankers and nine cargo trucks – delivered supplies to the factories’ communities.

Among the emergency goods: water, food, blankets and portable toilets.

“We don’t have any reports of injuries. There were no deaths, and everybody’s safe,” spokesman Paul Nolasco said of the company’s employees in the disaster area.

Other details weren’t immediately available.

The two assembly plants include one run by Central Motors Co. in Miyagi prefecture and another operated by Kanto Auto Works Ltd., in neighboring Iwate prefecture.

The Central Motors plant, which just opened in January, suffered damage to its wall and some pipes but had no major structural or equipment problems, Toyota said Tuesday. The Kanto Auto plant had some of its stamping machines displaced by the quake’s shaking.

The Central Motors plant makes the Yaris small car for export to the United States. Kanto Auto makes the Yaris sedan, as well as the Scion XB and Scion XD for the U.S. market.

Toyota’s parts plants were not badly damaged, the company said.

But the temblor did damage a battery-making line at a plant operated by Primearth EV Energy Co., a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic. That factory, filled with sensitive high-tech equipment, makes nickel-metal hydride batteries for various Toyota gasoline-electric hybrids.

It was still unclear how much repair work is needed or when the plants would come online.

Other Toyota plants throughout the country were in operating condition, including another nickel-metal hydride battery factory run by Primearth EV Energy in central Japan.

Virtually every Toyota model exported to the United States from Japan, from the Prius and Corolla to models in the Lexus and Scion lineups, is affected by the shutdowns.

The question of effects on North American production of about a dozen Toyotas plus the Lexus RX 350 was addressed in an update to the ongoing Toyota USA Newsroom press release on the earthquake and tsunami:

Regarding Toyota’s North American operations, so far the impact is limited. All 13 North American vehicle and engine plants are running normally, although overtime has been curtailed for now to assure we maintain adequate inventories of parts that come from Japan. In addition, since most parts and materials for Toyota’s North American-built vehicles are provided by suppliers in North America, this helps insulate Toyota’s North American plants from production interruptions in Japan.

Regarding dealerships in the US, inventories are good with adequate levels of supply. Toyota now makes 12 different models in North America, including high-volume vehicles such as Camry, Corolla, RAV4, and Lexus RX 350, and nearly 70 percent of all Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. are made in North America. Prius vehicles are built in Japan, and thus impacted more by the production halt there. But for now inventory levels of the Prius at U.S. dealerships are generally still adequate.

Regarding battery production in Japan, while future production plans are to be determined, only one of three hybrid battery plants in Japan sustained limited damage from the earthquake. The other two plants are located in central Japan and were not affected. The company is making every effort to minimize any long-term impact on Prius availability.

Meanwhile, Toyota employees in the U.S. are very interested in contributing to relief efforts in Japan. To make their support go further, Toyota Affiliates in the U.S. will match their personal relief donations to the American Red Cross.

This is in addition to Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan donating 300 million yen (approximately $3.75 million) to support relief efforts.

A curtailment of overtime to assure adequate inventories of Japanese-sourced parts was also implemented by Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Thailand. Australian sources, meanwhile, report that deliveries of parts for local assembly of Camry and Aurion models at Altona, Victoria, are continuing, at least for now, assuring that their production will continue for the foreseeable future. Bloomberg quotes Toyota’s Beijing-based spokesman Liu Peng as stating that output at Toyota’s China ventures is continuing normally, without elaborating.

From Europe comes word, via a French-language report that the cancellation of overtime edict applies to all Toyota production facilities worldwide outside of Japan, including facilities in Burnaston in the United Kingdom and Valenciennes in France. Still reviewing the situation is Toyota Peugeot Citroen Automobile Czech (TCPA), the joint venture formed by the three carmakers to build the Toyota Aygo / Citroën C1 / Peugeot 107 triplets. Even with their Toyota-sourced powertrains, Bloomberg cites company’s spokesman Radek Knava as not expecting any significant impact on production as most car parts the models use are produced locally. He cautiously adds, however, that “We still need to confirm what’s the situation of some of our suppliers”.

Photo credit: Bertel Schmitt of The Truth About Cars

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5 thoughts on “Toyota releases new Japan production schedule updates, plus word on the Central Motors and Kanto plants

  1. We are thinking of buying a new Lexus CT or HS hybrid. What does the impact do to the production of these cars?

    • I would say it all depends on when, precisely, you plan to purchase your Lexus CT or HS. For the balance of this month and until the end of April, most pundits predict that there should be a good selection of vehicles that crossed the Pacific before the earthquake hit. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.

      Both CT and HS are built in the Tokyo and Toyota City vicinity in plants that suffered little or no damage. The wild card question is how much will the rolling blackouts hamper production, and how much of a backlog there will or won’t be at the ports to put the vehicles on a ship to America or elsewhere. Also, as noted above, one of the two Primearth EV Energy plants that make the hybrid batteries suffered some damage, so there’s already talk that hybrid production may be affected starting in May.

      Another prediction is that a combination of decreased supply to fill demand (due to the above causes) and the current strong yen/weak dollar relationship (made worse by the Japanese natural disasters) will combine to push future vehicle pricing upward and make for less dealer incentives and discounts.

  2. I have a Toyota Fortuner 4WD and I am planing to change it at the end of the year for the same model , this model Fortuner will continue? …they would be new releases of the Fortuner ?

    Looking forward for your reply,

    Regards,

    David Benavides..Lima – Peru

    • I strongly suspect that there will be a revised Fortuner coming soon. After all, the Fortuner is derived from the Hilux pickup truck, and, on 13 July 2011, the Hilux received a series of changes (see link here). I would guess that in, maximum, another year, the Fortuner will receive most if not all of the Hilux changes.

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