Renesas Electronics Corp., the biggest maker of microcontrollers used in cars, mobile phones and cameras, said it may complete inspections at a plant closed by last month’s earthquake in Japan ahead of schedule.
Renesas may finish inspections at the Naka plant in Ibaraki prefecture early, plant manager Takashi Aoyagi said today at the factory, as it works to restart output by June 15. The plant makes 200-millimeter and 300-millimeter chips for cars and electronics.
Reopening the plant may help carmakers restore output after Japan’s record earthquake on March 11 damaged factories of parts makers including Renesas and knocked out power stations, forcing all of the nation’s auto manufacturers to halt production due to shortages of components and electricity. Renesas, based in Kawasaki, Japan, shut eight domestic plants after the disaster.
Renesas fell 0.3 percent to 687 yen at the 3 p.m. close of trading in Tokyo. The stock has declined 20 percent since March 10.
The company has 30 percent of the global market for microcontrollers, which are used in cars, mobile phones, television sets, cameras, refrigerators and rice cookers.
Renesas will start with production of about 3,000 20-millimeter wafers a month at the Naka plant, just under 10 percent of capacity, Corporate Officer Tetsuya Tsurumaru, in charge of the company’s production operations, told reporters today at Renesas’ Naka plant in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan. An equal amount will be produced at the company’s other factories which are partially making up for the shortfall.
About 300 workers from customers including carmakers have been helping Renesas with repairs to factory building structures and water and electric systems, Aoyagi said. About 60 percent of output of 20-mm wafers at the Naka plant is typically used in cars, he said.
Renesas will announce in mid May its outlook on when production at the Naka plant will return to full capacity.
About 50 microcontrollers are used to help various functions in cars, including navigation systems, monitors that assist driving, dashboard meters and audio systems, according to Renesas.
The chipmaker was formed in September 2009, with NEC Corp. holding a 35 percent stake, Hitachi Ltd. a 31 percent stake and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. owning 25 percent.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, may lose production of 300,000 vehicles in Japan and 100,000 overseas through the end of April due to quake-related shutdowns, Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi said last week. With output below normal levels until November or December, the company is unlikely to meet its full-year global production target of 7.7 million vehicles, he said.
About 150 parts, mostly materials such as rubber and plastics, are still in critically short supply, the carmaker’s President Akio Toyoda said April 22.
Honda Motor Co.’s output of cars and parts in Japan will remain at 50 percent of regular capacity until the end of June, the company said on April 25. Production will return to normal levels by the end of the year, it said.
Japanese carmakers also face possible blackouts in the coming warmer months after the natural disasters reduced the nation’s power-generating capacity by 8 percent. Automakers are considering electricity-saving options such as shifting work to weekends to conserve power.