Hit hard by a blast at a Nippon Steel mill that has cut off steel supplies from the site, Toyota has begun buying from other steel makers to keep production running, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday.
“We have started to procure some steel from other Nippon Steel plants, as well as other steel makers,” the spokeswoman reportedly said, declining to specify the firms.
The news agency said Toyota had been using inventory after the gas explosion and fire last Wednesday at Nippon Steel’s Nagoya plant in central Japan and had said it was considering looking elsewhere to ensure a steady flow of steel sheets to the 15 group factories that rely on the plant.
Spokesmen at Kobe Steel and Sumitomo Metal Industries, which have a capital tie-up with Nippon Steel, told Reuters they had been “sounded out” by car makers and their partner about the possibility of supplying the material, but added they had not received any request.
According to Reuters, Nippon Steel, Japan’s top steel maker and the world’s second largest, expects both of the Nagoya plant’s blast furnaces to be working by mid-September, but said the factory would not be fully operational until next year.
Reuters noted that, since Monday, Toyota has cancelled most overtime work at the plants, except for the new Prius hybrid sedan and has been deciding production plans on a day-to-day basis.
Production would carry on as planned on Thursday but the company did not know about overtime, Reuters said.
According to Reuters, Toyota denied a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily that it was asking its overseas plants to be ready to ramp up production to compensate for the temporary shortfalls of the Corolla sedan and Yaris [Echo/Vitz] subcompact that would normally be exported from Japan.