Earthquake in Japan Shuts Down Several Production Lines at Toyota Plants

Japan is no stranger to earthquakes, and a major shock hit the island nation last Wednesday. A 7.4 magnitude earthquake reached the easter part of the country, destroying many roads, shutting down power to millions of homes, and causing many businesses to shut down. Toyota is reviewing the damage of this shocking event that could setback their production across many production lines at their nearby locations.

Devastation around the Fukushima prefecture of Japan

Shop in Japan Torn Apart by Earthquake
Shop in Japan Torn Apart by Earthquake | Al Jazeera

Early reports by CNN World have at least four people dead and more than 100 others injured after the earthquake. A similar quake hit the Fukushima prefecture 11 years ago, causing the nuclear power plant meltdown. This most recent earthquake caused a bullet train derailment, but thankfully, no injuries occurred during this event.

In addition to the train derailment and deaths, tsunami warnings were issued but later removed because the threat disappeared. Many businesses and individuals have to take stock of what happened to figure out what they need to do next, including Toyota.

Several popular Toyota SUVs halted after the Japan earthquake

According to Automotive News Europe, eleven of the Toyota factories in Japan halted 18 production lines, including those for the RAV4, Land Cruiser, and some Lexus models. These facilities supply Toyota and Lexus models to much of Asia and Europe. This earthquake has an immediate devastating impact on the Toyota presence in those regions.

The earthquake tore down several roads in the area, making it all but impossible for supplies to get in and out of the various Toyota plants. Toyota currently runs 28 production lines at 14 factories in the country. As you can see, this means more than half of the production has stopped until the country can put things back together.

Toyota faces more production losses than originally thought

Toyota Facility in Japan with Broken Window
Toyota Facility in Japan with Broken Window | Automotive News Europe

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The earthquake is only the most recent event impacting production for Toyota. The company estimates an additional loss of nearly 20,000 vehicles due to the earthquake. This is in addition to the 50,000 production loss predicted for March. The originally predicted losses are due to the cyberattack and microchip shortages already impacting this company.

The cyberattack didn’t hit Toyota directly but hit one of their suppliers, causing an immediate shortage of 13,000 vehicles. While Toyota would not disclose the name of the supplier, this set the brand back, adding more trouble to an already challenging situation with the shortage of microchips.

Additional trouble for one of the most popular brands in the world

If the numbers don’t sound like much yet, think about this. Before the war in Ukraine and this devastating earthquake, Toyota had already slashed its global output by 750,000 vehicles. That’s a 17 percent reduction in production for one of the world’s largest automakers. Now, they have to add another 20,000 models to the mix for the earthquake and 13,000 for the supplier cyberattack.

Immediate action by many companies

The earthquake hit Japan on Wednesday night, and by Friday morning, many companies were finding ways to get back online fast. Renesas Electronics Corp., a critical semiconductor manufacturer in the area, already has a partial test-run production process back up. The company reported they should have two of their three facilities at pre-quake operational levels by March 23. That’s quite a fast turnaround.

Japan slowed by the quake but not stopped

Earthquake Damage in Japan
Earthquake Damage in Japan | The Independent

As we’ve seen in the past, Japan is a resilient country and will bounce back from this recent earthquake. Toyota mirrors this ideology and will find a way to bring vehicles to the markets that need them. The models impacted by the earthquake are:

Toyota

  • RAV4
  • Harrier
  • C-HR
  • Land Cruiser

Lexus

  • LS
  • IC
  • RC
  • LC
  • NX

These models will be in short supply in the markets supported by the 14 plants in Japan, but probably not for very long. Hopefully, for the sake of Japan and Toyota, no more challenges hit them and cause any further damage or delays.

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