Multiple dam failures brought on by prolonged and intense rain in central Michigan saw a record surge of water sent down the Tittabawassee River last night. Following the breach of the Edenville and Sanford dams, water levels peaked at 35 feet in downstream Midland, MI, breaking the previous record by more than a foot.
In the affected area, the dam failures left uprooted trees and lives, unmoored buildings, a lake drained nearly dry, and a catastrophe of the automotive kind.
When I was in my mid-twenties I would rejoice when we got a foot or more of unexpected snow. It meant I could spend the day in my Land Rover, pulling people out of ditches. It wasn’t all fun and games; I became much more experienced at pulling people out of snowbanks, too, which meant that I could… okay, on second thought it was all fun and games. Brother Bark liked to come along, because whenever I helped out a woman whose boyfriend or husband was with her it would give him a chance to make fun of the fellow. It was truly a no-lose situation.
I can therefore totally understand the joy this monster truck driver felt when he finally had a chance to DO WORK with his monster truck. You spend your whole life training for the moment when your stupid jacked-up b**-dozer is useful for something besides making enemies of decent people on the freeway — and then one day the moment comes!
It wasn’t just the monster trucks. All of the lifted boxes, donks, and bubbles had their thirty-six-inch moment in the sun (or the rain) as well, cruising effortlessly through the rising floodwaters. Which leads to a question….
Toyota announced today that it will resume production in Thailand on November 21. Full scale production probably is a while away. At a visit to Thailand, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said that “Toyota is starting to get a firm grasp of the situation and would like to restart production as soon as possible.” This does not mean that it is business as usual yet.
None of the approximately 100 journalists that packed Toyota’s basement meeting room in Tokyo today was surprised when the midterm results of the current fiscal year were announced, and there was an operating loss of 32.6 billion yen ($417 million). The loss was a little higher than expected, but expected it was. If you lose 689,000 units in sales, then you are bound to lose some money. The surprise came in the form of an unexpected new benchmark: Nissan.
The Nikkei [sub] says that Toyota’s production in Japan “is being paralyzed by the parts shortage caused by the severe flooding in Thailand, with assembly lines for 20 models to grind to a halt.”
According to the wire service, four minivan models already stopped rolling off the lines, with 16 more models to follow while Japanese plants wait for parts such as electronic components for audio equipment and gauges.
The Nikkei warns:
The persistent floods in Thailand did cost Japanese automakers already close to 200,000 unbuilt vehicles, and no end of the floods is in sight. This is putting a severe crimp into the major push that was planned for the last quarter of 2011 and the fist quarter of 2012 to make up for lost production after the March 11 tsunami.
Here is a current tally by The Nikkei [sub].
Floodwaters in Thailand show no signs of receding, and continue to affect car production in Thailand and around the world. Toyota’s three Thai plants in Samrong, Gateway and Ban Pho are dry. They have been shut down for a lack of parts since October 10, and the closure will continue at least through November 12, Toyota says in a statement.
When the March 11 tsunami hit, Nissan was first to recover. This was caused by quick reaction and sheer luck. Now that Japanese carmakers are under water in Thailand, it looks like Nissan will emerge relatively unscathed again. The Nikkei [sub] reports that Nissan plans to resume partial production in Thailand from November 14.
Toyota says it will suspend production at its assembly plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Ontario, Canada, along with an engine factory in West Virginia to cope with a shortage of parts, caused by flooding in Thailand. The parts shortage is beginning to affect global operations.
Japanese carmakers are driven out of the country by a rising yen and an urge to diversify their production after the catastrophic March 11 tsunami. A favorite destination is Thailand. Due to free trade agreements with many nations, Thailand increasingly morphs from the Land of Smiles to a South East Asian production and export hub. Now, most car production in Thailand is stopped – again because of killer floods.
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