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Car and Driver: Toyota Suspends Japanese Vehicle Production After String of Earthquakes


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2016 Toyota Prius

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Two massive earthquakes struck Japan’s Kyushu island late last week, killing dozens, destroying buildings, and displacing thousands of local residents from their homes. The reported 6.5- and 7.3-magnitude earthquakes also disrupted parts supplies to Toyota, the world’s largest automotive manufacturer.

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“We found damaged walls, broken windows, and assembly equipment out of position [in two factories],” a spokesman for Aisin Seiki Co., a supplier of Toyota door and engine parts, told The Wall Street Journal.

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Due to parts shortages, Toyota released a written statement noting that it will suspend vehicle assembly-line production in stages at more than a dozen different plants until parts availability is normalized. Affected lines include those at the Tsutsumi plant, which produces the popular Toyota Prius hybrid, and the Tahara plant, which produces a number of Lexus models, as well as those at other facilities producing vehicles for the Asian market.

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As a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and the subsequent tsunami that followed, many Japanese vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers have worked together to create a strong network for parts following a natural disaster. Nevertheless, Automotive News reports that Toyota may see its operating profit for the current quarter fall by nearly $277 million.

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Toyota isn’t the only manufacturer affected by the region’s seismic activity, though, as Honda is suspending production of motorcycles at its Kumamoto plant through April 22. Meanwhile, production at Nissan’s Kyushu plant was temporarily halted due to earthquake-related damage.

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