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Published on March 12th, 2011 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Toyota shut plants as big earthquake hits Japan

Toyota Motor Corp stopped production at plants in northern Japan yeasterday and was assessing damage after a 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast, shaking buildings violently as far away as Tokyo. The world’s largest carmaker, said it was evacuating workers from several factories in the quake zone. Toyota has two parts plants in northern Japan and it has two affiliates, Kanto Auto Works, Ltd. and Central Motors Co., that assemble small cars in the region.

Toyota is one of the few Japanese automakers with a large manufacturing presence in northern Japan, a region it wants to make a center for small car production. In January, its Central Motors subsidiary opened an new assembly plant just an hour’s drive away from Sendai. That plant, with a capacity of 120,000 vehicles, makes the Yaris small car for export to the U.S.

Toyota’s Kanto Auto Works has another assembly plant in the neighboring prefecture of Iwate. That plant also makes small cars, including the Yaris sedan, the Scion for export. The Toyota parent company has two parts plants in the region as well. Toyota plants near the company’s headquarters in Toyota City, in central Japan, had resumed production as normal after brief shutdowns. There were no reports of injuries from those factories. Possible damage was still being assessed. Toyota was also confirming damage at its suppliers.

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