Toyota Plant Stays Shut After Tianjin Blast Damage

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Toyota Motor Corp. will lose its biggest source of car production within China for at least three days, as automakers struggle to assess the damage of last week’s explosions in the port city of Tianjin.

The area’s evacuation will prevent Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co. from operating through Wednesday. The company doesn’t know yet if it will be able to restart production once contamination advisories are lifted and is still confirming the extent of damage to facilities with blown-out windows, spokesman Nicholas Maxfield said in an e-mail.

The broader toll for automakers and suppliers that count on the port to store vehicles and ship parts remains unclear. Along with Toyota, Hyundai Motor Co. has been unable to determine how many of its cars were damaged, and the Korean carmaker has shut a nearby logistics center. Mazda Motor Corp. said while it has adequate inventories for now, there’s concern about potential disruptions to the flow of components.

Volkswagen AG, China’s largest foreign automaker, had about 2,700 vehicles damaged by the explosions, spokeswoman Larissa Braun said in an e-mail.

The death toll from blasts at a chemical storage site in Tianjin climbed to 114 on Monday, with 70 people still missing. Premier Li Keqiang visited the site a day earlier and vowed to find out what caused the explosions.

Japanese carmakers said they avoided production losses last week because their operations were closed for a holiday. Toyota has the most at stake among the companies unable to restart production immediately.

Tianjin FAW Toyota built about 440,000 Crown, Reiz, Corolla and Vios cars last year, almost half of Toyota’s annual vehicle output in China. A plant in Xiqing, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the blast site, depends on parts produced in Tianjin and contains one of the company’s three manufacturing lines that aren’t operating.

Blast Damage

About 50 Toyota employees who live in the area surrounding the blast were injured. Two Toyota dealerships and one Mazda store also are shut. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said 600 of its cars may have been damaged.

Chinese truckmaker Hualing Xingma, which has a plant located less than a mile from the blast site, said more than 30 employees were injured in the explosions.

The extent of damage to nearby operations of auto suppliers was mixed. Furukawa Electric Co. said it may have to take measures to re-route shipments through other ports.

Aisin Seiki Co., a Toyota group company, said while windows at its factory located 3.5 kilometers from the blast site were shattered, there has been no further damage to its production facilities and equipment. The component maker is still checking on the status of its local employees, Masayuki Toyama, spokesman for the company, said by phone on Monday.

Representatives for Toyoda Gosei Co., Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. and Tokai Rika Co. reported no damage to their facilities.

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