Toyota and Honda Plants in China Are Restarting

A Toyota plant in Guangzhou, China, is returning to normal production next week, Reuters reports, after being closed for a month due to the coronavirus outbreak. The plant that produces Yaris and Camry sedans is restarting its second shift, effectively returning to its production level before the outbreak.

Additionally, two other Chinese Toyota plants have already returned to a normal production schedule: a plant in Changdun, Jilin province, and a plant in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Reuters notes. Another Toyota plant in Tianjin is working one shift instead of two.

Earlier this week Honda restarted limited production at a car plant in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic that began in December. Honda indicated it was gradually restarting Wuhan production after government authorities in the city began lifting restrictions at key industrial sites that had been closed for weeks.

Earlier in February Toyota took steps to provide aid to regions of China affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“The in-kind donation will include medical masks, protective medical clothing, and medical-use hats for health care providers, as well as other medical supplies, such as disinfectant, purchased through the companies’ global network,” Toyota said in February. “The procurement of these supplies will be done in a way to limit supply strains on local resources, and it is our combined hope that the items will be found helpful for the local population, especially the healthcare professionals who are on the front lines caring for and administering to the Chinese people.”

Car and component factories in China have experienced different levels of disruption for weeks as Chinese authorities implemented strict quarantine measures in several cities and provinces. Supplier plants in Wuhan province were shut down early on, causing Hyundai to suspend car production in South Korea, even absent a large number of coronavirus cases and a lack of a land border with China. Hyundai had been relying on electrical components produced in Wuhan for production at its plants and couldn’t avoid a shutdown as it scrambled to find a different source.

While auto production in China is slowly restarting, it remains to be seen whether demand returns as quickly. China, the world’s largest automotive market, had seen sales plummet 79.1% in February, after the outbreak began, Reuters notes, as major purchases and travel experienced a sharp slowdown. Since the outbreak is still in progress, it is not known if March sales will show signs of rebounding. Even absent a mandated quarantine, vehicle purchases are expected to remain at depressed levels in several countries affected by the pandemic.

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