Toyota is set to recommence operations at all manufacturing sites in Japan on April 18, after being forced to close several factories and cancel production in the devastation of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami exactly one month ago.
Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said manufacturing plants will resume operations at 50% of full capacity, and the company will reassess plans following Japan’s Golden Week holidays in early May. Closures have been maintained because of damage to facilities and safety concerns after a series of nuclear accidents, most notably at the Fukishima plant in eastern Japan.
Since March 11, Toyota has lost a potential production of 500,000 vehicles. According to Advanced Research Japan analyst Koji Endo, this translates to losses of around $1.2 billion.
Prius Success in the US
But on April 6, there was a more positive announcement as Toyota confirmed that Prius car sales in the United States had topped 1 million units. On the same day, it also announced a $12 million joint venture with Microsoft, which aims to integrate Internet-based ‘telematics’ applications into Toyota’s vehicles to enable GPS and in-car power management and multimedia services.
But it’s not all happy sailing. The Bank of Japan today marked out the auto sector as an area of weakness in the country’s economy, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan shares all took a dive of more than 2%. The effects of the quake and tsunami will yet be felt for some time.
The world’s biggest car manufacturer will begin post-quake production cautiously. The memory of last year’s crisis that saw some nine million cars recalled due to brake and accelerator defects will still be fresh in their minds, as it will in those of consumers.
Key Statistics - Japanese Automotive Industry (source: Datamonitor)
- The Japanese car manufacturing industry reported total revenue of $170 billion in 2010, which represents a compound annual rate of change (CARC) of -2.2% over 2006-2010.
- Production volume shrank with a CARC of -3.2% from 2006-2010, to reach a total of over 8,553,600 units in 2010.
- Forecasts for the industry indicate an anticipated CARC of -0.1% from 2010-2015, which could drive value to over $169 billion by end 2015.