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Factory shutdowns could cause delays for Toyota HiLux

Waiting game: It remains to be seen if Toyota Australia runs into any supply issues with its HiLux and Fortuner off-roaders as brand temporarily shuts down its Thai factories.

Toyota shutting down all Thai production plants due to COVID-related parts shortages

27 Jul 2021

AUSTRALIA’S favourite vehicle, the Toyota HiLux, could be in short supply over the coming weeks and months as the Japanese auto giant shuts down several of its key production facilities in Thailand and Japan amidst COVID-19 outbreaks and related parts shortages.


According to a report by Nikkei Asia, all three of Toyota’s plants in Thailand have been inactive since July 21 and will not be reopened until at least Wednesday July 28, with the Japanese company planning to “assess the situation and decide” whether to resume operations from Thursday July 29.


If the plants do reopen, just three days’ worth of production will have been lost given they were going to be shut down between July 24-28 anyway due to local holidays – hardly dire considering Toyota’s combined annual production capacity in Thailand exceeds 550,000 units. 


The Thai plants are responsible for the production of several key Toyota models including the HiLux, Camry, Corolla, Yaris, Fortuner and C-HR, with the shutdowns being the result of a wiring harness shortage inflicted by the shutdown of an external factory was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak.


While it remains to be seen if the plants reopen as hoped, a Toyota Australia spokesperson confirmed supply of the HiLux and related Fortuner large SUV to be most at risk and that it would be “assessing any impact that the current COVID-19 restrictions in Thailand will have” on the two model lines.


“We will provide an update in due course,” the spokesperson said.


As the Thai shutdowns look to be coming to an end – all things going well – production stoppages are about to begin in Japan are about to begin, where the Fujimatsu and Takaoka Plants will be shut down for five days each.


Operations at the Fujimatsu Plant will cease as of Thursday July 29 and not restart until at least August 4 whereas the Takaoka Plant will be silent for the entire working week spanning August 2-6.


It is not known yet how much of an impact the production delays will have on global supply chains, but Toyota HQ has confirmed both shutdowns are in relation to the parts supply shortages centred around “the spread of COVID-19 in South-East Asia”.


Adding insult to injury is the growing number of Toyota employees testing positive to COVID-19 in Japan, with eight diagnosed this month alone, two of which are based at the Takaoka Plant.


July’s other positive test results came from the Motomachi and Myochi plants, the Toyota City headquarters and Kudan Building in Tokyo.


In a statement issued on Monday, Toyota executives apologised for the “anxiety and concern” that positive test results can instil on the immediate vicinity and assured the public it was doing everything possible to quell the any further spread.


“The virus is an issue that has the potential to affect all Toyota locations and we are continuously working to further enhance our communication and health checks with staff at all locations,” the statement said.


“Toyota is actively implementing measures to prevent the further spread of the virus and remain committed to provide timely updates as the situation requires.”


But Toyota may not be alone in its production woes with Philippine outlet Autoindustriya claiming its sources to have confirmed Isuzu Ute to be in a similar dilemma to its compatriot in terms of Thai production operations.


According to the report, the delays should begin to be felt – in the Philippines at least – in the coming months, however the severity of them remain to be seen as they all depend on the length of the Thai shutdowns.


If Isuzu can weather the storm and continue production though, the D-Max could be in a prime position to nab second place on the local sales charts – a regular battleground for the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger – if its upward trajectory so far this year continues.


For reference, the D-Max has been one of the best-selling models nationally all year, hovering steadily in ninth or tenth place for the first few months of the year before rising to third in the June sales race with 3167 new deliveries.


By comparisons, Toyota shifted 5412 HiLuxes over the same month.


GoAuto has contacted Isuzu Ute Australia for comment on the rumoured factory shutdowns and what impact they could have on existing wait times for the D-Max, as well as deliveries of the second-generation MU-X large SUV that goes on sale next month.

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