TOKYO/SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN – Toyota, Honda and and a slew of other automakers say plant suspensions will continue into May in light of the fall in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Toyota said Wednesday that all 15 of its domestic assembly plants will close on May 1 and May 11, both weekdays, while manufacturing lines at four plants in Aichi, Shizuoka and Iwate prefectures will be wholly or partially suspended from May 12 to May 18 at the longest.
Daihatsu Motor Co. said it will halt its plants in Osaka and Kyoto prefectures for two to three days in May, with a plant in Shiga Prefecture making its mainstay Tanto minivehicle that was set to be closed through April 21 staying shut for three more days.
Hino Motors Ltd. said it will close its plant in Hamura, Tokyo, on May 12.
Suzuki Motor Corp., which began intermittently suspending its five domestic plants earlier this month, said it will extend a production freeze at two of the plants until April 28.
Subaru Corp. will postpone the reopening of a plant in the U.S. state of Indiana to May 11. The reduction in parts output in Indiana as well as its domestic plants amounts to a 10th of Subaru's global volume.
In the meantime, Honda Motor Co. plans to furlough several thousand salaried employees and support staff in the United States for two weeks in an expanion of cost-cutting measures that initially affected only production workers.
While many carmakers have cut executive salaries and temporarily laid off their factory workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic, salaried-worker furloughs have been relatively rare. Honda will continue to pay for furloughed employees’ medical care and other benefits, and they’ll be eligible for state unemployment benefits, according to a spokesman.
"Stay-at-home orders in many cities and states prevent consumers in a number of markets from purchasing new vehicles,” Honda said in a statement announcing both the furloughs and the shutdown extension at plants in Mexico. "As a result, Honda must continue to suspend production in order to align product supply with a lack of market demand.”
Honda employs about 31,000 people in the U.S. and previously furloughed some 16,900 mostly hourly workers at auto parts and vehicle assembly plants in the country. About 75 percent of its workforce is involved in manufacturing, with the remainder in finance, sales and research-and-development roles.
Honda will furlough the majority of its white-collar staff in California starting Friday, followed by other locations from Sunday.
In March, Honda’s U.S. sales plummeted 48 percent from a year ago. With most states having ordered auto dealerships to close completely or allowing only remote sales, demand is expected to be even worse this month across the industry.
Honda said it will prolong the shutdown of its auto parts and vehicle plants in Mexico through the end of the month, aligning the timeline for those facilities with factories in the U.S. and Canada.
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