Toyota to Reopen Seven Parts Plants in Japan; Shares Surge

Toyota Motors' Tsutsumi Factory, Aichi prefecture
Toyota, which halted all plants in Japan after the March 11 quake, will reopen seven plants in Aichi prefecture, a company spokesman said. Photographer: Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

Toyota Motor Corp. gained the most in more than two years in Tokyo trading as carmakers and suppliers began to reopen factories closed after Japan’s strongest earthquake on record.

The world’s biggest carmaker rose 9.1 percent to 3,345 yen, the biggest daily gain since December 2008, after plunging 15 percent over the two previous days. Nissan Motor Co. recovered 6.2 percent and Honda Motor Co. regained 3.9 percent.

Toyota, which halted all plants in Japan after the March 11 quake through today and canceled overtime at U.S. factories, will reopen seven plants in Aichi prefecture tomorrow morning, said Keisuke Kirimoto, a spokesman in Tokyo. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and tiremaker Bridgestone Corp. reopened plants today that were shut after the magnitude-9.0 quake off the coast of northern Japan, which may have killed as many as 10,000 people.

Japan’s “automotive industry is facing acute and unprecedented problems relating to component and power-supply shortages,” Paul Newton, a London-based auto analyst for IHS Automotive, said in an e-mail message.

Toyota will keep 21 plants shut until March 22, Paul Nolasco, a spokesman for the carmaker, said by phone today. The company may lose 95,000 units of production, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman.

Toyota’s profit may be cut by 6.5 billion yen ($80 million) for each day of lost output, said analyst Koji Endo at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.

Completing Assessment

The absence of component supplies and adequate power will make it difficult even for the least-affected automakers to resume production this week, IHS’s Newton said.

Honda and Mazda Motor Corp. have said all their plants in Japan will be closed until March 20. Suzuki Motor Corp. planned to keep all factories in the nation shut until March 21. Nissan, Japan’s second-biggest carmaker, said the company and an affiliate would reopen one plant tomorrow and another on March 18. Two factories will remain closed until March 20 while another will operate partially. No decision has been made on reopening a sixth plant.

Mitsubishi, Bridgestone

Mitsubishi resumed production at its three plants in central and western Japan, Yuki Murata, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carmaker, said today. The factories will continue running tomorrow, though no decision has been made about continuing output after that, the company said.

Bridgestone, the world’s biggest tiremaker, reopened three plants in Tochigi prefecture, two of which will begin deliveries of tires for cars, trucks and motorcycles from March 18, according to a faxed statement.

Mitsubishi rose 6.8 percent in Tokyo and closed at 94 yen, after plunging 20 percent over the previous two days. Bridgestone surged 7 percent, rebounding from a 10 percent two-day slump.

None of Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota’s factories in the northern Tohoku region hit by the tsunami sustained serious damage, the company said. Toyota sent 60 employees to Tohoku to assist workers and their families and assess factory damage, Nolasco said.

North America

The Primearth EV Energy Co. plant, a Toyota subsidiary that makes batteries in Miyagi prefecture for hybrid autos such as the Prius, suffered minor damage to production lines, Nolasco said.

In North America, Toyota slowed production by canceling overtime shifts to conserve parts until conditions in Japan are better understood, said Mike Goss, a U.S.-based spokesman.

“We’re waiting for TMC to complete an assessment of suppliers in Japan and our suppliers’ suppliers,” said Goss, who’s based in Erlanger, Kentucky.

Some of the parts from the seven plants that reopen tomorrow morning in Japan will be for export to factories outside Japan, spokesman Kirimoto said today.

Toyota’s main port facility in Tahara, Japan, for vehicle shipments to the U.S. wasn’t damaged by the quake and tsunami, the company said.

While Toyota produces about 70 percent of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. at local plants and sites in Canada and Mexico, it relies on Japan for most of its Lexus luxury models, Scion vehicles and the Prius hybrid.

Honda’s U.S. Operations

Honda hasn’t altered its U.S. assembly schedule, said Ron Lietzke, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company’s manufacturing unit in Marysville, Ohio.

Nissan hasn’t adjusted assembly operations at its plants in the U.S. and Mexico, said Paula Angelo, a Nissan spokeswoman.

Honda and Nissan are each likely losing about 1.7 billion yen per day for each day their factories in Japan remain closed, said Endo, who is based in Tokyo.

Japan’s Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. is extending a production halt at five factories in Gunma prefecture until March 20, spokesman Kenta Matsumoto said yesterday. The maker of Subaru cars, partly owned by Toyota, also will postpone the announcement of its mid-term business plan that had been scheduled for March 24, Matsumoto said.