Japanese automakers resume limited production in Thailand

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BANGKOK, Nov 14 – Leading Japanese automakers on Monday announced the partial resumption of production in Thailand after being forced to halt operations for over a month due to the country’s worst flooding in decades, which disrupted their parts supply.

Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) president Nobuyuki Murahashi said his factory suspended  production from Oct 14 through yesterday (Nov 13) and lost the ability to produce 23,000 units.

Production resumed today, he said, and the plant will operate seven days a week beginning in January, with and 15,000 units targeted for production by March. Even with the weekend workdays, he said, the company faces a loss of 8,000 units.

The company earlier targeted the production of 250,000 units for the year 2011, he said.

Mr Nobuyuki attributed today’s renewed production to cooperation from many parties.

He elaborated that flood-hit autoparts suppliers requested their subsidiaries in other countries, such as India and Indonesia, to supply components to Mitsubishi’s Thailand operations, while the mother company in Japan is also providing some missing components.

Despite severe flooding, the Japanese automaker expressed confidence in continuing its investment in the kingdom.

“Mitsubishi has invested in Thailand for 40 years,” Mr Nobuyuki emphasised. “We are not thinking of relocating our production base because of the flooding.

“We believe that the flood-prevention plan outlined by the Thai government and private sector will be effective,” he stated, adding that his company will discuss with supply chain companies acquiring autoparts from varied sources to prevent similar disruptions in the future.

Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) vice president Suwit Benjathikul said on Monday that the company relies on parts produced in Thailand for 80-90 per cent of its production, and many parts factories in Pathum Thani province, immediately north of Bangkok, were submerged.

However, he said some of them already resumed operation, while other informed that they could restart production by mid-December.

Other Japanese carmakers also resumed production today, including Ford, Mazda, and Nissan, but not yet at full capacity as local autoparts suppliers must share in the distribution of a limited number of items to the companies, the company executive said.

Agence-France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported that Honda also resumed production of some motorcycle and power product models at its Ladkrabang factory after operations were suspended by the disruption of parts supply since early October.

However, the Honda factory in Ayutthaya province, severely hit earlier by floodwaters, remains closed.

Toyota said it would resume production, halted since Oct 10, from Nov 21 at three plants in Thailand.