Toyota Restarts One Tired Old Plant. That's It For Now
Everybody thinks the Japanese auto industry will re-open for business next week, and will happily produce away. This is clearly not the case. What will be opened will proceed very carefully through the minefields of missing parts and cut power. A lot will not be re-opened at all.
When we reported yesterday about the flash message that Toyota will restart the Corolla production at the Sagamihara plant, we deduced that this could mean a prolonged outage for their new Miyagi plant up north. As often, there is a bigger story lurking in a smaller story.
Talking today to Toyota HQ in Tokyo, they confirm that on Monday, April 11, their Sagamihara plant on the outskirts of Tokyo will re-open to produce the Corolla, the Corolla Axio, and the Raum, a small MPV made only for the Japanese market.
This in addition to the restarted hybrid production, and the limited parts production that had been restarted a week after the tsunami hit.
But what about all the other cars? When confronted with that question, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco says:
“We have yet to determine when any of the other vehicle lines will go back on-line.”
Meaning: As of Monday, April 11, Toyota will be building the Prius, the Lexus HS 250h and CT 200h, plus the aforementioned JDM cars built in Sagamihara, a tired plant that was scheduled for decommissioning. Toyota will continue making parts Toyota makes itself, including parts for foreign production. That’s it until further notice.
Nobody at Toyota can say for sure when and what else will be produced. There certainly is no substance to media reports from a week ago, which claimed that the Miyagi plant will start making Yaris cars by the end of April, after all the other plants had opened.
By the end of this week, Toyota is looking at a production loss of 260,000 cars, Nolasco confirms. The commonly accepted number for the Japanese car industry as a whole was 400,000 by the end of March. Performing a back of the envelope calculation with very limited input and even less foresight, it is conceivable that the industry in total will have lost a million cars by the end of April – in Japan alone.
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