Japanese Automakers Assess Post-Earthquake Damages, Suspend Production

As Japan continues to assess damages sustained nationwide after a record-smashing earthquake and a devastating tsunami, its automakers are evaluating and reporting on how these natural disasters have affected their production.

Honda: As previously reported, one R&D employee perished at the company’s R&D center in Tochigi during the earthquake, while another 30 were seriously injured. A press release notes the company has confirmed the wellbeing of nearly all North American employees on assignment in Japan, and “continues to seek such confirmation.”

Five Honda plants will remain closed through Monday, although only a few actually produce complete automobiles. The company’s Sayama plant builds the CR-V, Accord, U.S.-spec Fit, and the Acura RL and TSX. The Suzuka plant, which briefly operated on Friday but is offline today, builds Japanese-spec Fits, Civics, and both the Insight and CR-Z hybrid models.

An official release from the automaker notes there is no immediate impact on Honda’s U.S. operations -- unsurprising, seeing as roughly 80 percent of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. are produced in North America. Most content for these models is also sourced from North America, but the automaker is “assessing the long-term impact, if any, on production in North America” due to some parts originating from Japan.

Honda has pledged $3.6 million for disaster relief, but is also contributing 1000 generators for use by rescue teams across the country.

Mazda: Mazda isn’t detailing the damage (if any) sustained to its facilities during the earthquake, but notes it has suspended operation at two plants through March 16th in order to “ensure the safety of all employees and their families at its suppliers in the affected region.

Although the shutdown only affects two plants, those facilities are responsible for building much -- if not all -- of Mazda’s offerings. The Hiroshima plant handles Mazda2, Mazda5, CX-7, CX-9, and MX-5, and also builds most of the company’s engines. The Hofu factory builds both the Mazda3 and Japanese-spec Mazda6, and also produces automatic and manual transmissions.

The company notes it will announce any further production changes for March 17th and onward “as soon as a decision is made.”

Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi notes its major production hubs are located outside of the areas hardest hit by the quake, and subsequently haven’t been damaged. That said, the company notes some of its supplier base has reported damage, and has halted production to investigate the potential impact on vehicle output. Production is tentatively scheduled to resume on March 16.

Nissan: The automaker reports its Tochigi plant (which builds the 370Z, GT-R, Infiniti G, EX, and M) along with its Iwaki engine plant have halted production until March 18. The company’s Oppama plant (which builds the Juke, Cube, and Leaf) and a handful of engine and transmission facilities will suspend operations until March 16.

Nissan officials note in an official press release that it the company is donating nearly $3.6 million to aid in relief efforts, and is considering providing further assistance, possibly in the form of vehicles, forklifts, and medical supplies.

In light of the nation's rolling blackouts, Nissan is also working to cut back electrical consumption across the country. Air co

ditioning has been switched off at its global headquarters and technical center. The company’s flagship Nissan Gallery showrooms have been closed altogether, while other dealerships have been advised to shut off their exterior signs and dim interior lights.

Subaru: according to an Automotive News report, the company has suspended production at five factories. The company believes no production facilities have been damaged by the quake, but is still investigating if its supplier base has been affected, which could hamper output.

Suzuki: The automaker announced late Friday that there is “no reported harm” to the company’s employees, headquarters, or manufacturing plants in the Shizouka Prefecture. The company is still investigating if its other operations, including its domestic sales network, port distribution, and supplier base, have been impacted, or will potentially impact its exports to North America.

Toyota: The automaker reports no injuries were sustained at its offices, assembly plants, or subsidiary vehicle manufacturers (i.e. Hino, Daihatsu, etc.), but is concerned that its factories may have taken a hit in the quake. Most Toyota-owned factories resumed production on March 11, but two contractor plants, which are responsible for building the Yaris, Scion xB, and Scion xD, are still offline.

An official release from the automaker notes the company is still inspecting each facility for damage, and “assessing the situation at our suppliers, dealers, and impact on North American import vehicles.” Production at all Toyota facilities will be halted today in order for the inspection to occur. In the meantime, the company is donating $3.6 million to aid in relief efforts, and is also considering providing additional goods and services to afflicted communities as needed.

Source: Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, Toyota, Automotive News (Subscription required)

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