Status Report: Japanese Automakers Cope In Aftermath Of Earthquake

By Winding Road Staff

March 14, 2011

(photo credit: Official US Navy Imagery) 

Friday’s horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan has taken a grim toll on that country over the weekend. (Please take a moment to support efforts by the Red Cross if you’re able.)

News and updates about facilities and production damage to major Japanese automakers have been understandably sketchy, for the most part. Here’s a rundown, by manufacturer, of what’s been reported on that front as of this morning.


Honda’s operations in Japan’s Tochigi area were hardest hit by the earthquake. One 43-year-old male was killed when a wall collapsed at the Tochigi R&D Center. Collapsing ceilings and other damage injured more than 30 employees in Tochigi.

Multiple Honda plants have closed, and will remain closed through Monday, including the Saitama plant that produces the CR-V, Accord, Fit (US spec), Acura RL, and TSX. Honda’s Suzuka plant, responsible for Fit (Japan spec), Civic, Insight, and CR-Z production, operated on Friday but will be closed on Monday.

(See the full Honda press release below.)


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mazda suspended production at four plants in western Japan for Monday evening and all day Tuesday, because of a shortage of parts.

+ Wall Street Journal: Plant Closures Imperil Global Supplies


The Financial Times is reporting that Mitsubishi Motors is suspending plant operations on Monday and Tuesday, “to check safety at its suppliers.” The bulk of Mitsubishi’s production is carried out in Japan’s Aichi, Gifu, and Okayama regions, all of which were unaffected by the earthquake.

+ Financial Times: Japan’s carmakers suspend domestic operations


Reuters is reporting that Nissan has plans to suspend operations at its Tochigi and Iwaki plants, “at least until March 18.” Further, plants in Oppama, Kyushu, and Yokohama will be closed until March 16.

On Friday, Nissan released a statement confirming the safety of company employees, and speculating that Japanese operations would not be significantly affected. Nissan’s global headquarters building in Yokohama was reported, “safe and operational.”

(See the full Nissan press release below.)

+ Reuters: Nissan: to halt operations at Tochigi, Iwaki plants until Mar 18


Subaru hasn’t sent out a press release, but according to Automotive News, a Subaru spokesman has said that parent company Fuji Heavy Industries has shut down five production facilities.

+ Automotive News: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru shut plants after Japan earthquake


Suzuki has not reported any harm to personnel or operations. With communication being difficult, it is still trying to assess how distribution ports and suppliers have been affected.

(See the full Suzuki press release below.)


Toyota has not reported any injuries at any of its operations. Employees at several plants were evacuated and production stopped, including the plants producing the Toyota Yaris, Scion xB, and Scion xD.

The company is still working to assess the impact to suppliers and distributors, is suspending operations today (Monday), and is donating about $3.75 million in disaster relief and recovery aid.

(See the full Toyota press release below.)

Press Releases


Damage was widespread in the Tochigi area, where Honda has a number of operations. Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has confirmed the fatality of a Honda R&D associate at the Tochigi R&D Center, when a wall collapsed in a cafeteria. The associate was male, 43 years old.

More than 30 Honda associates were injured in the Tochigi area from collapsing ceilings and other damage during the earthquake.

Honda would like to express its sincere condolences to the family of the associate who died as a result of this earthquake. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and all those injured or displaced by this tragedy.

* Some Honda plants have closed in Japan, and will remain closed through Monday.
o Tochigi Engine, transmission and chassis parts.
o Saitama Two plants: Sayama plant in the Saitama factory produces CR-V, Accord, U.S. Fit, Acura RL and TSX. In addition, Ogawa Plant in the Saitama factory produces automobile engines.
o Hamamatsu Two plants -- automobile transmissions, outboard marine engines.
o Suzuka operated Friday, will not be in production Monday. This factory produces Japan Fit, Civic, Civic Hybrid, Insight and Honda CR-Z (all hybrid models).
o Kumamoto Factory in southern Japan remains in operation (motorcycles).

Honda in Japan is assessing the resumption of operations and the long-term impact to its operations from the Japan earthquake.

North America
There is no immediate impact on Honda's operations in North America. More than 80% of Honda and Acura products sold in the U.S. are produced in North America. The vast majority of automotive parts for Honda automobiles manufactured in North America are sourced in the region.

Honda is assessing the long-term impact, if any, on Honda auto production in North America, since some auto parts are supplied from Japan.

There will be no major impact on the availability of Honda products in North America. Honda Fit, Insight and CR-Z, and Acura TSX and RL are produced in Japan. A small percentage of CR-Vs are produced in Japan.

Honda has confirmed the wellbeing of nearly all Honda associates on assignment in Japan from North America, and continues to seek such confirmation.

Honda's operations in North America and globally will do everything they can to support the recovery of Honda's operations in Japan.


03.11.2011 , FRANKLIN, Tenn.
MEDIA ADVISORY: Earthquake in Japan and Impact on Nissan Operations (Update)

During the overnight hours in the Americas, northern Japan was hit with an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, and numerous tsunamis are causing heavy damage across the Pacific coastline in Asia. Additionally, tsunami alerts have been issued for communities along the entire North America Pacific coastline.

At this time, we are currently confirming the safety of all Nissan employees and continue to assess the situation at our Japanese facilities, but we do not believe our operations have been significantly affected. Here in the Americas we are operating normally and we do not anticipate any immediate impact on Americas operations, facilities, dealers or customers.

Operations have been suspended at Nissan’s Japan plants through Sunday, March 13. Nissan’s global headquarters building in Yokohama was not significantly affected, is safe and operational. So far, there are no reports of employee casualties and employee safety precautions are underway at all locations. Nissan’s team in the Americas will monitor the operational status of our Japan facilities through the weekend for any scheduling updates.



Suzuki Motor Corporation today announced there is currently no reported harm to Suzuki’s personnel, headquarters or manufacturing plants located in the Shizuoka Prefecture region. The earthquake’s epicenter was located 240 miles north of Tokyo while Suzuki’s headquarters are in Hamamatsu City, which is 158 miles south of Tokyo. We are currently gathering information about any additional effects to Suzuki’s operations, including port distribution, plant and dealership operations, as well as our vendors and suppliers located in the damaged areas. Due to widespread power outages communication is challenging, but we will continue to report information as it is received and communicate via our media website and social media outlets, including Twitter/suzukiauto and Facebook/suzukiauto.


Updated Toyota Statement Regarding Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

NEW YORK, NY (March 13, 2011) - Toyota's associates and team members in North America extend our heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences to the people of Japan, our colleagues and their families.

Our utmost concern has been the safety of all Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) team members and team members at our partner companies in the Tohoku region.

TMC has established a company-wide emergency task force to continually assess the situation and take initial measures.

There have been no reported injuries at Toyota operations, including the Tokyo head office, the Higashifuji facility, Tochigi office, Yamanashi office, Toyota Motor Tohoku facilities and at TMC subsidiary vehicle manufacturers.

While TMC plants were able to restart production on 3/11, plants that stopped production are Toyota subsidiary plants that produce parts and vehicles, including:

* Toyota Motor Hokkaido Plant
* Toyota Motor Tohoku Plant
* Central Motor Corporation Miyagi Plant, which also produces the Yaris model.
* Kanto Auto Works Iwate Plant, which also produces the Scion xB and Scion xD.

Employees at these facilities were evacuated to safe areas.

We are now conducting a detailed survey of each plant to determine the extent of any damage. We are also currently assessing the situation at our suppliers, dealers and the impact on North American import vehicles.

As we are committed to ensuring the safety of our team members and their families, Toyota has decided to suspend production at all TMC plants, as well as all subsidiary vehicle-manufacturing plants on Monday, March 14th.

Toyota’s number one priority is to support our team members at TMC, our partner companies, suppliers and dealers through this situation. On behalf of the company globally, TMC is moving to donate 300 million yen (approximately $3.75 million) for relief and recovery efforts in communities affected by the Tohoku Earthquake and is also considering the provision of goods and services as needed.

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.