Toyota poised to restart production at China plant

(Bloomberg) — Toyota Motor Corp. said it will restart production this week at China plants that were shut after explosions in the city of Tianjin.

Workers at two lines in the Tianjin Economic Technological Development Area were expected to return today and start preparation to begin production on Friday, Toyota said in an e-mailed statement. Employees at the Xiqing line also were to begin operations today, it said.

Production has been shut at Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co., the Japanese carmaker’s local affiliate, since the Aug. 12 blasts at a chemical storage site in the northern Chinese port city. The explosions killed at least 123 people and injured 67 Toyota workers who live in the area. About 4,700 Toyota and Lexus vehicles were also damaged.

The automaker said decisions about working overtime or extra shifts to recover lost production will be made as it continues to assess the state of its facilities. Toyota said it can’t estimate lost output at this stage.

Toyota said it doesn’t expect sales to be “significantly affected” as they have “certain amount of inventory.”

The Tianjin disaster took a broader toll on the auto industry, damaging 2,700 Volkswagen AG vehicles, shutting a nearby Hyundai Motor Co. logistics center and forcing Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. to divert car shipments to Shanghai. The warehouse that exploded stored about 1,300 metric tons of oxide compounds, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Tianjin Vice Mayor He Shushan.

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