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Last 7 Days

by Tim Beissmann

All of Japan’s major automotive manufacturers have put production on hold in the aftermath of Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Honda Motor Co., the hardest hit by the natural disasters, has closed its factories until at least Sunday. Honda has 113 suppliers in the affected areas and still has not been able to make contact with 44 of those.

It is estimated the production of more than 16,000 Honda vehicles will be delayed in the short term as a result of the factory closures.

Honda Australia’s Mark Higgins today confirmed the latest news out of Japan was that one employee had been killed at Honda’s research and development facility in Tochigi and 16 more were injured.

Mr Higgins said Honda Australia was yet to determine the impact of exports from Japan and whether there would be a delay in delivery times of Australia-bound vehicles.

Honda is contributing 300 million yen ($3.63 million) towards the relief and recovery effort, as well as 1000 generators and 5000 gas canisters.

Toyota looks likely to lose production of 40,000 vehicles, as some of its plants are damaged and others suffer electricity shortages from battered nuclear power stations.

Toyota’s 12 manufacturing plants will stay closed until at least Wednesday. According to estimates from Goldman Sachs, Toyota could lose six billion yen ($72.6 million) in profit each day without production, while Honda could lose as much as two billion yen ($24.2 million) per day.

With the nation’s death toll expected to exceed 10,000, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Suzuki have all closed their factories – both to ensure that their supply chains are up and running, and also to give workers a chance to regroup with their families.

Suzuki today confirmed its six Japanese plants would be closed until at least Thursday.

“Suzuki is currently gathering information about any additional effects to Suzuki’s operations, including port distribution, plant and dealership operations, as well as our vendors and suppliers who are located in the damaged areas,” it said in a statement.

Suzuki Australia’s Bridget O’Conner said it was “too early to assess” whether Australian supply would be delayed.

Mazda – which is based in western Japan and was sheltered from the earthquake and tsunami – originally planned to continue without closures, but sent workers home yesterday afternoon and has given them until Thursday to recover personally.

A Mazda spokesperson explained shortages of brake parts and steel plates had also forced factory closures.

Mazda Australia confirmed that based on current information there was not likely to be any major effect on stock supply to Australia.