Japanese Automakers and Suppliers Closing Factories After Earthquake

9:42:00 AM


Automotive companies have halted output at plants after an 8.9- magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, damaging production facilities and causing power outages.

The quake, Japan’s strongest in at least a century, struck at 2:46 p.m. local time 130 kilometers (81 miles) off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo. The tremor caused a tsunami as high as 10 meters (33 feet) that inundated northern towns and caused buildings to shake violently as far away as Tokyo. At least 26 people were killed by the wave and many were missing, state broadcaster NHK Television said.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, and its affiliates closed three factories, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman in Tokyo. The Toyota City-based carmaker began production at a new plant in Miyagi this year that makes Yaris compact cars and has capacity to make 120,000 vehicles a year.

Honda Motor Co. closed two factories, said Hajime Kaneko, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carmaker. A 42-year-old male employee was crushed to death by a collapsing wall at a research and development center in Tochigi prefecture and about 30 other employees were injured, Kaneko said.

Nissan Motor Co. closed four factories including car plants in Tochigi and Kanagawa and engine factories in Kanagawa and Fukushima, Mitsuru Yonekawa, a spokesman for the Yokohama-based company, said by phone. Two workers suffered minor injuries, he said.

A refinery on fire outside Tokyo exploded, while nuclear power stations were shut down. Narita airport, Tokyo’s main international gateway, was closed and bullet-train services suspended. More than 4 million homes were without power, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

Toyota shares traded in Frankfurt fell as much as 3.8 percent, the biggest single-day decline since Jan. 21, to 30.45 euros as of 10:15 a.m. local time. Honda dropped as much as 4.5 percent and Sony slid as much as 2.5 percent in the German city.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru cars, closed five factories, said Kenta Matsumoto, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company.

The quake was followed by a 7.1-magnitude aftershock at 4:25 p.m., the U.S. Geological Service said. Boats smashed into walls as the tsunami struck, inundating buildings with black water full of debris across stretches of coast north of Tokyo, NHK images showed. One large building was lifted off its foundations and dragged into the ocean. This has effected a number of tier-one suppliers to the automotive and electronics industries. Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the army to aid rescue efforts after the quake, which struck 373 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.

The following is a summary of what companies have said regarding damage from the earthquake:

Company                  Status

Toyota Motor Corp. Three group factories halted

Nissan Motor Co. Halted production at four plants; two
injuries
Honda Motor Co. Halted two plants; one employee killed;
about 30 injured
Toyota Boshoku Corp. Damage at plant in Miyagi

Denso Corp. Damage to plant under construction in
Fukushima

Fuji Heavy Industries Five plants halted

[Source: Bloomburg/ Image: NHK TV]

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