Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Toyota to restart some parts production today

FALLOUT:Japan’s auto plants were little damaged despite the disaster, with Toyota the worst hit, but a post-quake surge in the yen may prove more damaging

Reuters, TOKYO

Toyota Motor said it would restart some domestic auto parts production from today, the first resumption of production in Japan by the world’s No.1 carmaker since Friday’s devastating earthquake.

Factories will begin making parts to be shipped to service centres for repairs to Toyota vehicles already on the road, a spokesman for the company said.

It is still undecided, however, when it will restart its 12 main assembly plants, the spokesman said.

From Monday, Toyota will also begin making car parts for shipment to assembly plants overseas, the company said.

With few of their plants damaged by Japan’s biggest earthquake, Toyota, Nissan Motor and Honda Motor can limit losses once idle lines restart, but analysts say a post-temblor surge in the yen’s value may be more damaging.

The most affected will be Toyota, which still builds 38 percent of its vehicles at home, compared with a 24 percent of output at Nissan and 22 percent at Honda. Toyota ships more than half of its domestic output to overseas markets.

“The direction of the Japanese yen over the next three to six months as a result of this catastrophe will also affect the profitability of Japanese automakers,” Fitch Ratings said in a report.

The US dollar has fallen 3 percent against the yen since the disaster and is now close to its 1995 record low of ¥79.75.

Traders and investors are watching for signs of repatriation by Japanese investors and companies because after the Kobe earthquake in 1995, the yen surged to an all-time high against the US dollar based on similar flows. So far though, most traders have not seen repatriation taking place.

Honda yesterday reiterated its plans to suspend all production in Japan until at least Sunday. Nissan said output remained stopped at all four of its home car assembly factories and said it would consult with parts makers before deciding on a resumption. Nissan made 81,851 cars in January in Japan.

Goldman has estimated the profit impact of stopping production for one day would be about ¥6 billion (US$74 million) for Toyota and ¥2 billion for Honda and Nissan.

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