Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nissan to restart more auto, parts plants in Japan

Nissan Motor Co. plans to resume auto and parts production at more Japanese factories next week, but it may be several months before inventories and other elements of the country’s auto industry return to normal.

Nissan said it will resume production of parts at five plants Monday. It then plans to resume vehicle production Thursday as long as supplies last.

Most of Japan’s auto industry shut down after a powerful earthquake and tsunami devastated the country earlier this month. Nissan and other carmakers have started resuming some production, but the industry still faces rolling blackouts and infrastructure problems.

Supply levels probably won’t return to normal until mid to late summer, said Michael Robinet, director of global production forecasting for IHS Automotive.

“They certainly wouldn’t start up if they didn’t have all the components,” he said. “How long they can stay producing is anybody’s guess.”
Honda Motor Co. has said it will suspend automobile production until Wednesday. More than 100 of its suppliers are based in the area near where the earthquake and tsunami hit, according to IHS. It told U.S. dealers in an e-mail it can’t guarantee when production will return to full capacity.

Toyota Motor Corp., which builds the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury cars in Japan, has shut its assembly plants there through at least Tuesday. Mazda Motor Corp. also said it would resume temporary production Tuesday at a couple plants.

Problems in Japan have affected production in other countries too.

GM said last week that it will halt production at a Shreveport, La., plant that relies on Japanese-made transmissions for the two small pickups it produces. It also said two of three shifts will be canceled at a plant in Eisenach, Germany on Monday and Tuesday. Another plant, in Zaragoza, Spain, will remain closed Monday.

Nissan said last week that it was resuming production at its Kyushu plant for as long as parts last. On Sunday, the company said it would expand production this week to include its entire process from parts to vehicle assembly.

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