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American Shipper

Japanese automakers adjust to disruption

Japanese automakers adjust to disruption

   Toyota said Friday it is scaling back production and suspending operations for five days in North America beginning this week due to shortages of parts from Japan, which is in the throes of recovering from last month's massive earthquake, tsunami and radiation disasters.

   Vehicle plants will operate on reduced schedules and completely shut down on April 15, 18, 21, 22, and 25. The Georgetown, Ky., plant, however, will remain open on April 21, the automaker said.

   Engine and component plants will follow the same schedule. Future production plans will be determined at a later date, it said.

   About 85 percent of the parts and materials for the 12 Toyota and Lexus models built in North America are sourced from 500 suppliers on the continent. Some parts and material are still made in Japan, but Toyota said it is working closely with affected suppliers in order to minimize the impact.

   The situation in Japan affects many automakers and many other industries. Extraordinary efforts are underway to help suppliers recover, Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, said. 'We are slowing down to conserve parts yet maintain production as much as possible. We appreciate the flexibility of our team members, suppliers and dealers as we work through these issues.'

   Honda Motor Co. also said it would continue its reduced production schedule in North America this week because of difficulty obtaining critical parts from Japan. More than 80 percent of Honda and Acura products sold in the United States are produced by about 600 suppliers in North America.

   Additional production slowdowns are expected in future weeks, it added.

   Several Honda operations suffered damage from the natural disasters, but one of the company's auto plants in Japan suffered significant damage.

   Nissan said Saturday it will open vehicle and power-train plants in Japan next week, but they will only operate at 50 percent capacity. ' Eric Kulisch

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