Toyota NOT Open For Business. What's Wrong With The Nikkei?
“Toyota will not be resuming vehicle production at most of its plants next week, contrary to what has been reported.”
This was Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco’s answer when we reached him this (Tokyo) morning for a comment on a story that had appeared in The Nikkei [sub] at 2 a.m. last night. (Emphasis ours.) Without quoting sources, the Nikkei had written that “Toyota Motor Corp. has decided to reopen most of its domestic automobile plants as early as next week to start churning out a limited number of models.” This is clearly humbug. The Nikkei has done it again.
As previously reported, Toyota had restarted the production of the Prius and two Lexus Hybrids on March 28. Earlier, Toyota had restarted parts production on a limited basis. There has been no announcement of any changes. It is understood and expected that Japan’s major automakers will attempt a resumption of production by mid April. How successful this resumption will be in light of shortages of parts, power and raw materials is anybody’s guess.
Speaking of guessing, that’s what The Nikkei did when it wrote last night:
“Toyota is now looking to reopen most of its 15 remaining domestic assembly plants, including those of group firms. A Central Motor Co. plant in Miyagi Prefecture and certain other disaster-hit facilities will remain closed. To restart auto production, Toyota is scrambling to switch to alternatives or find new sources for parts still suffering from supply problems. Still, output will likely focus on several strong-selling models, such as fuel-efficient subcompacts, at first. Production lines are thus expected to operate far below capacity for the time being.”
Sounds good, something probably true, but pure guesswork.
Reuters confirmed this later in the day, writing: “Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it would not restart production at most of its idled Japanese vehicle assembly factories next week, denying a Nikkei newspaper report.” Reuters says that Toyota had lost production of about 200,000 vehicles as of April 1.
In times like these, more than ever, we need precise, verifiable and properly sourced information – good or bad. The situation is extremely fluid, and false rumors can have devastating effects.
At the time of this writing, 12 noon in Tokyo, there was no correction on the Nikkei wire. In my strictly personal opinion, I will no longer base any investment decisions on information coming off that unreliable wire. Also, it makes the life of the struggling auto writer unnecessarily complicated if we have to fact-check every wire report.
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Thanks Bertel for the update!
In the meantime, JADA reported car sales in Japan dropped 37% in March at 279,389 registrations, the highest year-on-year fall since May 1974 (-55%) and the oil-supply crunch.
And market analysts predict the fall will be bigger in April, 50% or more...
As far as models are concerned, the Honda Fit took the lead of the models ranking for the second time in 3 months, above the Prius. You can check you the Top 30 best selling models here: Japan March 2011 Top 30 models