In the Chinese coastal province of Jiangsu, where supply chains have been severed by the coronavirus outbreak, one auto supplier has already shifted production of parts for Mazda Motor Corp. to a site 13,000 kilometers away, in central Mexico's Guanajuato state.

The bid to keep production lines moving comes at a high cost for Japan's auto industry, already squeezed by a downturn in consumer demand in markets at home and in the United States and China.

To deal with a Chinese production shortage of a component used in the exterior trim of the Mazda3 and CX-30 models, the supplier cranked up output of the part at its Mexico plant by 50 percent and started airlifting it to Mazda's assembly line in Japan, according to a person at the supplier with direct knowledge of the matter.