Earthquake affects Japanese OEMs’ operations

Production has been halted at two of Japan’s four major motorcycle manufacturers following Friday’s earthquake and resulting tsunami.

Honda reported its Kumamoto motorcycle factory and five of its Japanese automotive plants will cease production through March 20. Its North American operations have not been affected. The company lost one employee, a 43-year-old male, when the wall collapsed in a cafeteria at the Tochigi R&D Center, killing the man. Seventeen other employees were injured in the Tochigi area. Honda says it is cooperating with electricity conservation, and has donated 300 million yen (about $3.7 million), 1,000 generators and 5,000 gas canisters to recovery efforts, along with the staff to demonstrate use of the equipment. The company’s more than 29,000 North American employees are being offered a donation plan that Honda will equal dollar-for-dollar with no cap.

Suzuki Motor Corp. has closed all six of its Japanese plants, including its two facilities dedicated to motorcycles. Production at all plants will be suspended through Wednesday, and the company will reassess its plan to continue production before Thursday. The company is still investigating effects on its Japanese facilities, distributors and dealers.

Yamaha Corp. released little information on its motorcycle operations. The company said it’s still investigating the earthquake’s effects, and it will make more announcements if business operations will change. Yamaha has received no reports of employees injured; however, the company has yet to contact one employee of a Yamaha subsidiary.

All three companies expressed sympathies to the earthquake’s victims. Kawasaki, also based in Japan, had yet to release a statement related to the earthquake on its website as of Tuesday morning.

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