Toyota Motor Corp is to partly resume operations at three plants in China this week, bringing back some of the capacity that had been on an extended halt in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has pitched Asia’s top economy into turmoil.
The factories in Changchun and Guangzhou would restart today, while operations in Tianjin resume tomorrow, Toyota spokesman Kensuke Ko said in an e-mail.
The plant in Chengdu would restart after next week, he said.
The spread of the virus has weighed on the global economy, with some automakers extending plant shutdowns amid shortages of parts and as efforts to combat the outbreak impeded the flow of workers.
An initial plan by Toyota to reopen factories on Sunday last week was delayed.
Fellow Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co has said it plans to restart its China manufacturing operations this week.
It is hard to pin down a reason for the delay in resuming operations at the Chengdu plant, Ko said.
The supply chain for parts and government policies are some of the factors, he added.
Yesterday, the government of Hubei Province, the center of China’s COVID-19 outbreak, said a ban would be imposed on vehicle traffic across the province to curb the spread of the virus.
In a published document, it said police cars, ambulances, vehicles carrying essential goods or other vehicles related to public service would be exempted.
It added that the province would carry out regular health checks on all residents in the province. It also said that companies cannot resume work without first receiving permission from the government.
The outbreak could barely have come at a worse time for struggling automakers.
Hubei’s Capital, Wuhan, is a major center of automotive manufacturing.
France’s Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen, Germany’s Volkswagen AG and BMW AG, as well as Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, Britain’s largest carmaker, have still not reopened factories run with Chinese partners.
Hyundai Motor Co has shut its huge factory in Ulsan, South Korea, for lack of parts, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV warned production in Europe could be threatened within two weeks.
Nissan Motor Co has already paused production lines at its Japanese plants.
Additional reporting by Reuters and The Guardian
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