Japan’s automotive industry is still determining the total damage sustained by the Tohoku Earthquake. Of the Big Four motorcycle manufacturers, Honda was the most affected. While its motorcycle production plants escaped unharmed, key Honda automotive facilities in the Tochigi prefecture were hard hit - including the Automobile R&D Center and a parts plant. Recovery of the parts supply chain in particular is critical to resumption of full automotive production. Honda’s latest update, issued April 8 by Honda’s President and CEO, Takanobu Ito, states finished automobile production will resume April 11, although at 50% capacity for the immediate future.
Courtesy of Honda
Honda would like to express its sincere sympathy, condolences and wishes for an early recovery to the survivors of the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake that occurred in northeastern part of Japan on March 11.
This is the outline of a report on the recovery status of Honda facilities, which was delivered by Takanobu Ito, President & CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. on April 8, at the Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Automobile R&D Center.
• In the Tochigi prefecture, there are many Honda facilities including the Automobile R&D Center, an office for the purchasing division, a parts plant and Honda Engineering Co., Ltd., which develops production technologies. Shortly after the earthquake, I rode my motorcycle to visit each of these facilities to check the level of damage. With fallen ceilings and walls and other damage, none of these facilities were in a condition to resume operations immediately. I realized it would not be an easy effort to recover these facilities.
• The purchasing division, whose head office in Tochigi was damaged, set up an emergency satellite office within Saitama Factory and began checking situation all of our suppliers including second and third tier suppliers and investigating the impact of the earthquake on the parts supply. Associates at the purchasing division are pursuing the necessary measures for every single part that was impacted toward the recovery of overall parts supply.
• The Automobile R&D Center set up satellite offices within the plants and other offices as it will take some time to restore its building and facility. After establishing a telecommunications network infrastructure at each office, the team resumed development operations on March 28. The development of mass-production models requires a lot of coordinated work with production plants; therefore, in hindsight, I am expecting that the team will be able to work more efficiently by being close to the production site.
• In the three weeks since the earthquake, we have worked to achieve the ability to resume our operations and we will resume production of finished units of automobiles at the Saitama and Suzuka factories on April 11. This means all Honda production plants in Japan will be in operation as of that date. However, as the parts supply situation remains fluid, production of component parts and vehicles in Japan will be at approximately 50% of the original production plan for the time being, and we have reduced production volume at some plants outside of Japan.
• We will strive to get back to normal operation as soon as possible by stabilizing the parts supply while also considering other options including changing the model mix at some production plants. We will also bring the pace of automobile development back to where it was before the earthquake by using R&D facilities in Tochigi as they are ready to resume operations, as well as the temporary satellite offices.
• The other day, I visited affected suppliers and dealers in Tohoku and saw them working hard day and night to resume their operations under conditions beyond my imagination. We will devote ourselves to support our suppliers and dealers to resume their stable parts production and services to our customers as soon as possible.
• We, the Honda Group, will go all out to overcome this difficult time and recover our business as soon as possible, which will also be a contribution to the recovery of the Japanese economy as well.