Toyota may idle plants following explosion

Toyota may idle plants following explosion

Toyota Motor Corp. is considering suspending all of its vehicle production lines at domestic plants for about a week starting Feb. 8 because of a January explosion at a steelmaker's plant, it has been learned.

Due to the explosion that hit Aichi Steel Corp.'s Chita plant in Tokai, Aichi Prefecture, on Jan. 8, there is the chance that production of auto parts using the company's special steel materials may be affected.

If production at all the plants is halted, it likely will cause delays in delivery of new vehicles and widely affect domestic production, involving a number of auto-parts makers.

Due to the explosion, Toyota has already decided to suspend overtime from Monday through Friday, as well as work on Saturday. The company plans to reach a final decision on measures for Feb. 8 and afterward.

The Jan. 8 explosion at Aichi Steel's Chita plant hit a furnace that produces special steel materials used mainly for engines and power transmission parts.

The steelmaker aims to recover from the accident by the end of March, and initially planned to weather it for the time being by using alternative production lines and entrusting production to other steelmakers.

Toyota's domestic plants currently produce as many as 13,000 to 14,000 vehicles per day. Arrangements to boost their production capacities had already been made through such measures as increasing overtime and work on days off, not only because the fourth-generation Prius has been enjoying good sales since its release in December, but also because domestic sales of new vehicles are highest in the period leading up to the end of March, the end of the fiscal year.

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