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Toyota output may fall by 40,000 cars on power shortage

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, may lose output of at least 40,000 vehicles after Japan’s strongest earthquake damaged factories and crippled nuclear power plants, causing electricity shortages.

Toyota closed 12 plants in the nation through Wednesday, Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman for the company, said by phone Monday. The manufacturer’s profit will be cut by 6 billion yen ($72 million) for each day of lost operations in Japan, while Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. may each lose 2 billion yen a day, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimated.

Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. also shut plants following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which police said may have killed more than 10,000 people. The disaster may trim 0.3 percent from Japan’s economy as power outages cut industrial production, Nomura Holdings Inc. estimated in a report.

“Not only is the struck region one of our production bases, those directly hit and vastly affected include our dealers, suppliers and numerous other partners,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement on the Toyota City, Japan-based company’s website.

Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker, suspended operations at four plants until Wednesday and at two other plants until March 18, the Yokohama-based company said Monday in a statement.

The automaker earlier said 2,300 new vehicles were damaged by tsunami surges in the wake of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan. Nissan doesn’t have an estimate of how much production may be lost, said Yuichi Nakagawa, a spokesman for the company. 
Workers make a final inspection of Toyota Motor Corp. Yaris vehicles on the production line of Central Motor Co.’s Miyagi plant in Ohira Village, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. (Bloomberg)
Workers make a final inspection of Toyota Motor Corp. Yaris vehicles on the production line of Central Motor Co.’s Miyagi plant in Ohira Village, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. (Bloomberg)

Honda, the nation’s third-largest carmaker, will halt output through March 20, reducing production by an estimated 16,600 cars and trucks and 2,000 two-wheelers, Tomoko Takamori, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based company, said Monday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., battling a possible meltdown at a nuclear reactor 220 kilometers north of Tokyo, planned rolling blackouts to conserve power. Millions of people remained without electricity or water as Japan sought aid from the United Nations atomic agency.

“This earthquake affected a wide area, and it’s likely that the economic impact will exceed the 20 trillion yen in damage sustained during the Kobe earthquake” of 1995, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano said Monday.

Toyota fell 4.2 percent to 3,170 yen as of 9:39 a.m. in Tokyo trading, extending its two-day drop to 12 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 5.6 percent after plunging 6.2 percent Monday. Nissan slid 2.9 percent, and Honda lost 3.3 percent.

Daihatsu Motor Co., 51 percent owned by Toyota, may lose production of 9,600 units as it closes factories through Wednesday, Fumihiko Kondo, a spokesman for the Osaka-based carmaker, said Monday.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. planned to resume production at its three Japan factories Wednesday after a two-day halt, Kai Inada, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carmaker, said Tuesday.

“We don’t know how many cars we are going to lose” from the stoppage, said Yuki Murata, a company spokesman. Domestic production totaled 660,104 vehicles in 2010, he said.

Mazda Motor Corp. will extend a production halt at four Japan plants until at least Wednesday night due to a parts shortage, Ken Haruki, a spokesman for the Hiroshima-based carmaker, said by phone Monday. The company isn’t disclosing how much output it will lose, he said.

Hino Motors Ltd. said it planned a stoppage until at least Wednesday, and Hiromichi Suwa, a spokesman, said the company was trying to calculate the potential loss. Rival truckmaker Isuzu Motors Ltd. said it would stop output at its two Japan plants until March 18.

Japan’s automakers may be able to make up for lost output by using excess production capacity at unaffected plants and running assembly lines on overtime and during holidays, Nomura analyst Jiyun Konomi said in a March 13 report.

“Capacity utilization at Japanese automakers’ plants in Japan is low,” Konomi wrote. “There does not appear to have been major damage to building or machinery and equipment” at Toyota and Nissan’s factories in the affected areas, he wrote. (Bloomberg)
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