[16:05GMT link updated]

[15:45GMT Nissan Americas added]

Honda, which had previously announced the suspension of production through Sunday 27 March, on Thursday (24 March) said it would now extend the production suspension of finished vehicles at its Sayama and Suzuka factories until at least Monday 4 April. Toyota plans to resume hybrid production on Monday but its US unit cautioned that “some production interruptions in North America are likely” though it was too early to predict location or duration. Nissan Americas said car supply and production were good for now and may send US-made V6 engines to Japan.

“Honda will make decisions based on the status of the recovery of Japanese society as a whole as well as the supply of parts. We deeply regret any inconvenience we may be causing our customers,” the automaker said in a statement, adding it would, however, resume motorcycle and power product production at Kumamoto on Monday 28 March.

Honda operations were more affected in the Tochigi area where the impact of the earthquake was more severe and the automaker said most inspection and repair work at its Tochigi factory were now complete “for almost all facilities and equipment”.

Workers at Honda R&D’s Tochigi facility (where one was killed by a falling wall during the earthquake and 13 others injured elsewhere on the site) and Honda Engineering associates who will work on the restoration have begun returning to work.

“However, based on the expectation that it will take several months until the complete recovery of these facilities, [we] decided to temporarily transfer some functions such as automobile product development, development of manufacturing technologies and procurement to [our]  operations in other locations such as Sayama, Suzuka, and Wako,” Honda said in its statement.

On 14 March, Honda announced that the testing/interviewing of applicants (for its 1 April 2012 recruitment intake) from the earthquake-affected areas would be conducted in June or later – without requiring candidates to request this – “so that people in the affected areas can focus on their daily life and recovery efforts”.

It has now, “considering the fact that the various issues are affecting people all over Japan”, delayed its entire recruiting process “by about two months so that all of applicants can enter into the process without any concerns.

“Based on the changes in the situation, Honda will take additional measures as needed to reduce the burden on applicants as much as possible,” the automaker added, saying it would announce more details on its website in April.

“Honda is working toward the recovery with the utmost efforts. We appreciate everyone’s understanding during these challenging times.”

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi said in its daily earthquake bulletin it would operate only its Pajero Manufacturing Company plant on Saturday 26 March with production at Okazaki and Mizushima suspended.

Okazaki will, however, operate on Friday 25 March along with PMC.

Only PMC operated today.

Mazda

Mazda, which temporarily resumed partial production at its Hiroshima and Hofu plants on Tuesday 22 March, producing replacement parts and parts for overseas production and vehicles utilising “in-process” inventories, said on Thursday it would now suspend the production of vehicles using the  “in-process” inventory at Hofu from Monday 28 March.

“A decision on the resumption of full-scale production of both parts and vehicles will be made at a later date,” the automaker said in a statement.

Separately, Reuters reported Mazda saying it would suspend production of replacement parts and parts for overseas production at Hofu after having resumed limited operations there earlier this week.

The Hiroshima factory would continue limited production until further notice, a spokeswoman told the news agency.

Toyota

Toyota, which resumed Japanese production of replacement parts on 17 March and parts for overseas production (including knockdown kits) on Monday, (21 March), on Thursday said it would resume production of hybrid vehicles (Prius, HS250h and CT200h) “for which worldwide demand is strong” from Monday 28 March but with output limited to its key Tsutsumi Plant (in Toyota City near Nagoya in central Japan) and Toyota Motor Kyushu in the south of the country.

“For the time being, we are keeping an eye on progress in production while carefully assessing parts supply,” Toyota said in a statement.

Separately, its US unit last night said it was continuing to assess its supply base in Japan following the earthquake/tsunami and has told staff “some production interruptions in North America are likely” though it was too early to predict location or duration.

“Currently, the greatest majority of parts for our North America-built vehicles come from approximately 500 suppliers in North America. Also, we continue to receive parts from Japan that were already in the pipeline, limiting the immediate impact,” Toyota Motor Sales USA said in a statement.

“We will continue to work closely with suppliers in North America and Japan to minimise any disruptions to Toyota’s overall North American operations.

“Dealerships continue to have an ample supply of vehicles, our ships continue to deliver vehicles to North America, and we are doing all we can to ensure our dealers have products available for customers.”

Subaru

Subaru vehicle maker Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) has also suspended production at its five vehicle plants in Japan until Monday 28 March, after “considering the influence of its suppliers in the affected areas as well as conditions of electric power supply.”

FHI had previously suspended car output until today. 

However, it did restart production of parts for overseas production on Wednesday 23 March and production of spare parts today “with some parts available for production”.

Nissan

Nissan Americas said in a statement on Thursday its manufacturing operations would produce normally “through at least 1 April”.

“The supply chain is being continuously assessed and Nissan’s teams are working to limit any potential for component shortages,” the automaker said adding it would provide an update “next month”.

US-made engines, meanwhile, may replace Japanese engines in Japanese built Nissans.

“We are currently studying the potential for our Decherd, Tennessee, engine plant to supply VQ V6 engines to Japan to replace lost production from the Iwaki engine plant. No decisions have been made at this time,” the automaker said.

In Japan, Leaf electric vehicle and battery production resumed at the Oppama car assembly and Zama battery plants today, Nissan said, adding:” The ability to sustain production will depend to a large degree on the frequency of rolling blackouts due to electricity shortages.”

Operations in Mexico, Canada and Brazil are not expected to be “impacted by any supply or production constraints” at the moment, it noted.

The US unit said it had over 260,000 Nissan vehicles either in dealer stock, at port or in transit from Japan while Infiniti had over 35,000 units available.

“These are both healthy stock  situations and better than at the same point last year,” the statement said. Nissan and Infiniti retailers would follow a normal schedule for May ordering.

“All customer and dealer vehicle orders will be processed without delay and dealers will see no interruption in their ability to order Nissan or Infiniti vehicles.

“Our supply chain teams in Japan and America continue to work relentlessly to resolve the bottlenecks as they appear, so that our manufacturing operations have an uninterrupted activity to support market needs,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas.

Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs last night said: “As [we] determined earlier today, demand for new cars is proving to be steady, so we can be sure new car prices will go up as inventory thins out.

“The shutdowns announced by Toyota this afternoon are likely just the beginning. All automakers are just now figuring out who supplies every little part. The shortage of any one could shut down an assembly line.

“Toyota isn’t the only one vulnerable; virtually all major automakers have some risks.”

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