Toyota issues memo to workers, retailers about reducing production

Article by Christian A., on March 25, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. told workers and retailers that it is likely to cut production at its North American plants due to the supply-chain disruptions from the earthquake in Japan. Toyota informed its workers in the United States and Canada that supplies of parts from Japan are running thin and will lead to disruptions in vehicle production.

According to a memo that was circulated to employees at Toyota's North American vehicle assembly and engine plants, Toyota said that while it is clear that there will be a period where production will be stopped, the amount of non-production remains “uncertain.” The memo was also shared with Toyota's U.S. retailers.

The memo stated that for now, there is an “ample supply” of most products and its ships continue to deliver vehicles to North America.

Toyota also revealed that its parts plants in Japan have been reopened. Mike Goss, spokesman for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. in Erlanger, Ky., said that the memo doesn’t indicate that work stoppages have been scheduled. It is only meant to inform its employees that they are likely in the present situation.

He clarified that Toyota has yet to determine when these stoppages will be, at which plant, or for how long. He also said that Toyota will be assessing suppliers and will still operate normally without overtime.

Goss said that on several Toyota models built in North America, between 10 percent and 15 percent of all content are sourced from Japan. He also said that Toyota is particularly concerned about supplies of electronic components and rubber. In an effort to preserve parts stockpiles, Toyota has already disallowed overtime throughout its North American manufacturing operations.

Also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the 3.11 earthquake, the Great East Japan Earthquake, was a magnitude 9.0 to 9.1 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011 at around 2:46 p.m. JST. Its hypocenter was located at a relatively shallow underwater depth of around 29 km to 32 km, with an epicenter located around 70 km east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku.

Considered as the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, the Great East Japan Earthquake lasted around six minutes. This megathrust earthquake was considered as a recurrence of the mechanism of the 869 Sanriku earthquake on July 9, 869, which had an estimated magnitude of at least 8.4 Mw. Just like the 869 Sanriku earthquake, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake created a large tsunami which waves went as high as 40.5 meters and traveled inland up to 10 km.

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