Workers have returned to some of Toyota’s factories in Japan for the first time since the devastating earthquake and tsunami disrupted car industry output there.
All of Toyota’s 18 factories had been closed; two have now reopened but they are running at about half their normal capacity. That is because many of the carmaker’s suppliers are still not operating.
One worker arriving for his shift said: “We don’t know if we can get all the parts, but as long as the factory is operating, I am relieved,” while another said he just did not know what the future holds.
Closing the plants has cost Toyota at least 140,000 vehicles and analysts at Deutsche Securities this week slashed their forecast for Toyota’s operating profit for the next business year by 84 percent.
Toyota resumed production of three hybrid cars – the Prius and two Lexus models – at the two factories in central and southern Japan, far away from the earthquake and tsunami damage.
It recently said it was reducing the number of vehicles being made at its plants in North America because of disruptions to the production of parts in Japan.
Industry analysts at IHS Automotive estimate total lost production by all manufacturers worldwide at 600,000 vehicles.