Thailand’s worst floods in more than half a century have forced production stoppages of Australia’s most popular utes and will affect availability and delivery times of models such as the new Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara.
While most assembly plants were not directly affected by the floodwaters, damage to the facilities and productivity of parts suppliers brought production to a halt for most manufacturers for parts of October and November.
Delivery of Australia’s most popular ute, the Toyota HiLux, will be delayed over the coming months.
“A proportion of the Toyota Hilux October allocation for Australia will be delayed and built in November and likewise a proportion of November allocation will be delayed and built in December,” Toyota said in a statement.
Production at Toyota’s three Thai plants recommenced on Monday, six weeks after stopping on October 10. Operation levels will be monitored and based on the parts supply situation.
The floods affected production of plastics, electronics and forged parts for Toyota vehicles, and continue to impact vehicle production in Japan. Production at Toyota Australia’s Altona plant is unchanged for the rest of November and the launch of the new Camry (due at the end of the year) remains on track.
Ford Australia says production of the all-new Ranger will resume on November 28. A lack of parts forced the AutoAlliance Thailand facility to stop production in mid-October.
Ford Australia’s Peter Fadeyev said it was difficult to predict the impact of the production stoppage on Australian customers. “We’re not expecting a large disruption,” Mr Fadeyev said, although he admitted changes to shipping schedules could have an impact on delivery times later this year.
The Ford Ranger (above) was launched in September, initially offering only two variants: the XL and XLT variants of the 3.2-litre 4x4 Double Cab. Ford Australia plans to introduce the 4x2, 4x2 High Rider, Super Cab, Single Cab, Wildtrak and four-cylinder engine variants throughout the first half of next year. Mr Fadeyev confirmed the staggered launch was always part of the plan and not a result of the floods, although at this stage Ford cannot confirm if launch times will be affected by the halt to production.
Thai production of Ford passenger vehicles (including the Fiesta for our market) resumed on November 14.
The new Mazda BT-50 is produced at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant alongside Ranger. Like its Ford sister car, Mazda's ute will also return to production on November 28.
Mazda Australia’s Steve Maciver said a heavy supply of stock for the initial launch of the Dual Cab in October meant the floods would not really have an impact on Australian BT-50 customers.
He said the launches of the BT-50 Freestyle Cab in December and the Single Cab early next year were still on track.
Nissan Australia’s Jeff Fisher admitted the brand would lose some Navara numbers because of the floods, although earlier production relocations of some passenger vehicles came at a good time for the local brand.
Maxima production switched from Thailand to Japan a few months earlier and our Micra is now put together in Indonesia.
Navara production resumed in Thailand on November 14, although Mr Fisher admitted the delivery of parts from some suppliers has still been slow.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s Lenore Fletcher said local vehicle deliveries had not been affected so far and predicted only “minimal disruption” at worst to Triton, Challenger and potentially Pajero. “We’re quite positive with our outlook,” Fletcher said.
She said Mitsubishi was using some of the damage control measures it learned from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March to limit the impact of the floods. Fletcher said that as Australia was one of the brand’s most important markets globally, it was likely to take some priority for stock if production was affected further.
The floods did not affect assembly of the Holden Colorado and production of the all-new model remains on schedule.
Holden’s Kate Lonsdale admitted the manufacturer had been more fortunate than most as the floods had not hit its suppliers too hard.
“We’re keeping a very close eye on the situation and monitoring it on a daily basis,” Ms Lonsdale said, confirming the launch of the 2012 Holden Colorado remained on track for the first half of next year.
The launch of the Colorado’s sister car, the Isuzu D-Max, also remains on schedule despite disruptions to the manufacturing process of the outgoing model.
Isuzu Ute Australia’s Cornelius Ionescu said production stopped in mid-October, and while the manufacturer was hopeful of resuming production before the end of November, he said it would take “at least a few weeks” to return to capacity.
Mr Ionescu admitted it could take some time to determine the full impact of the production losses for Australian customers, and said delivery times were also dependent on other manufacturers, as Isuzu was a relatively small importer to Australia. “No one’s going to send a ship with two or three cars on it,” he said.
Fortunately, the next-generation D-Max remains on track to arrive in Australia in the second quarter of next year. “At this stage everything is fine and there is no indication of delays,” he said.
The death toll from the floods officially topped 600 over the weekend. The flooding began in late July as a result of monsoonal rains and tropical storms, consuming more than two-thirds of the country’s 77 provinces.
The situation has improved dramatically over the recent days with clean-ups beginning in a number of regions. On Sunday the government confirmed 17 provinces remained flooded.