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Once Again, Covid-19 Forces Toyota Production Slowdown

Covid-19 may seem like it's behind us, but ask anyone who works in a hospital and they will tell you it’s simply not so. Or, ask Toyota. While we’re no longer living in the same state of emergency as we were two years ago, manufacturers like the Japanese auto giant continue to wrestle with the virus and the production slowdowns that it engenders.

To wit, Toyota announced this week having suspended night shift operations on a production line at its plant in central Japan because of a fresh outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

We're not talking about the kind of wholesale shutdown we saw in 2020, but rather a forced pause at certain locations due to the lack of manpower caused by the precautionary withdrawal of Covid-affected workers. A total of 16 workers at the Tsutsumi plant were infected with Covid-19. As a result, Toyota is short of workers for regular operations.

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In Toyota's Takaoka plant
Photo: Toyota
In Toyota's Takaoka plant

In all, 660 fewer vehicles will be built than planned. On its own, this number is not dramatic, but the problem is that it comes on top of existing slowdown and production hiccups. The latest unplanned stoppage comes as Toyota seeks to get production back to normal after containment measures and supply chain issues forced it to cut production for the second quarter of the year. From April to June, Toyota saw production fall by 10 percent, which is fairly significant.

Toyota suspended night shift operations at another plant for two days for the same reason in late July.

Even given all that, the automaker is maintaining its production target of 9.7 million vehicles for the fiscal year ending March 2023. The company firmly believes that production and sales will rebound from here.

Stay tuned.