Thai flooding halts auto production

Kyodo

Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have suspended some of their vehicle manufacturing in Thailand after key production bases were affected by flooding, officials of the companies said.

As the strength of the yen eats into Japanese exporters’ profits, some Japanese companies are using Thailand as an important manufacturing base. If the disruption is prolonged, it could upset their production and export plans.

On Tuesday, Honda officials said its vehicle manufacturing plant in Ayutthaya in central Thailand has suspended operations since Oct. 4 and there is no prospect of resuming production at the moment.

The plant manufactures 240,000 units annually, including the Jazz compact, called the Fit in Japan. The cars are sold in Thailand and exported to other countries in Asia.

Toyota halted production at three factories in eastern Thailand on Monday because its supply chain was disrupted by the flooding, though the plants escaped damage, the officials said Tuesday.

An earlier plan to resume operations on Saturday was pushed back till Monday at the earliest, Toyota said Wednesday.

Truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd. will suspend production of its pickup trucks until the end of this week, while Suzuki Motor Corp. will stop manufacturing motorcycles from Wednesday to Friday, the firms’ officials said.

Automakers’ strategies could be affected by the disaster in Thailand, where automobile production grew around 1.6-fold to about 1.64 million units in 2010 from a year earlier.

The flood damage has spread to electronics and precision instrument manufacturers as well.

Hitachi Ltd. has suspended operations at a plant that makes components for refrigerators, while Nikon Corp. halted output at its mainstay plant for single-lens reflex cameras, the companies’ officials said.