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August 27, 2015

CHINA: Toyota resumes Tianjin production after port inferno

Toyota says it will gradually restart production at its Tianjin plant tomorrow (28 August) following the devastating explosion in the nearby port, which killed at least 121 people and destroyed a possible 10,000 cars.

Toyota says it will gradually restart production at its Tianjin plant tomorrow (28 August) following the devastating explosion in the nearby port.

The inferno cost the lives of at least 121 people in total and destroyed a possible 10,000 cars from several automakers.

From today, staff are working at Toyota's two lines in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, after a warehouse at the Port of Tianjin believed to be storing hazardous substances, burst into a fireball on 12 August, believed to be the equivalent to 21t of dynamite exploding.

Toyota is now confirming it had 4,700 eponymous and Lexus models damaged in the inferno, while Jaguar Land Rover and Renault said they had 5,800 and 1,500 vehicles respectively caught up in the aftermath.

“These [4,700 cars] were waiting to be shipped,” a Toyota Europe spokeswoman told just-auto from Brussels. “Because the explosion occurred close to midnight, there were [no] injuries or fatalities reported from Toyota on the ground.

“But we have heard 67 employees who live in the surrounding area, including company accommodation, were injured.”

Hyundai said it had around 4,000 cars parked at the port at the time of the explosion, mainly the high-end Equus and Genesis models imported from South Korea.

The company noted however, the stock is insured, so it will not directly incur the ultimate cost of replacing it.

Volkswagen is also said to have lost some 2,750 cars in the explosion.

Toyota added it would “prioritise safety above everything else and will proceed with caution while monitoring the situation,” at the port which is around 120km North East of Beijing. Its Tianjin assembly plant, 70km from the port, manufactures the Vios and Corolla models.

“All these 4,700 vehicles were supposed to be shipped to cities in China,” added the Toyota spokeswoman. Some were imported from Japan and some were produced locally.”

The automaker was not able to say whether access to the port was now possible, but it appears this is highly restricted. In the meantime, Toyota was “considering other ports for shipments and imports.”

No information was viable as to the impact on Toyota's supply chain.

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