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Toyota Suspends Some Operations in Japan in Wake of Earthquake

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Toyota announced that it is suspending production at nine plants in Japan for several days due to supply disruptions caused by the earthquake that shook the northeast part of the country last weekend.

The world's largest car manufacturer said the interruption is necessary because several suppliers were affected by Saturday night's quake. Toyota said it would not disclose the affected parts or suppliers.

The affected parts are not semiconductors, however, said spokesperson Shiori Hashimoto. The clarification is relevant, given that the global industry is facing a shortage of electronic chips and that a major semiconductor plant has also been forced to cut production as a result of the earthquake.

Toyota also declined to specify by how many units production would be reduced. The production shutdown begins today in some plants and will continue until Saturday, February 20. The company has not yet determined precisely when the return to normal will take place.

Toyota said supply problems are not expected to affect production outside Japan.

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In total, the shutdown affects 14 of the manufacturer's 28 production lines in Japan and impacts Toyota's RAV4, C-HR and Harrier models, as well as several Lexus models such as the LS and IS sedans, RC and LC coupes, and LX, NX, UX and RX SUVs.

Renesas Electronics, a major supplier of semiconductors for the automotive industry, said on Monday it resumed wafer production at a plant that was closed for security reasons after the earthquake. However, the plant won't be at 100-percent capacity until next week.

The earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, struck off the northeast coast of Japan, near the epicenter of the devastating Tohoku earthquake that struck 10 years earlier, killing more than 16,000 people. That quake triggered a massive tsunami that resulted in devastating damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Saturday’s earthquake injured some 160 people and caused power outages in nearly one million homes.