TOKYO — Honda Motor Co. is considering keeping operations suspended for longer than planned at its three plants in the Chinese city at the center of the new coronavirus outbreak, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Thursday.
Honda said that the Nikkei report was not based on information provided by the company.
The Japanese automaker has suspended production at its plants in Wuhan, Hubei province, through Feb. 13, but the Nikkei said that it was reconsidering plans to restart operations on Feb. 14, without citing sources.
Output at most of Honda’s other plants in China has been suspended through Feb. 9.
Automakers and suppliers have idled many Chinese factories and limited employee travel in line with government guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus that has led to some 560 deaths in the country.
American Axle and Manufacturing, a U.S. supplier of drivetrain components with r&d and manufacturing operations in China, has asked supplier representatives that have traveled to China or been exposed to the coronavirus to conduct business by phone, email or Skype.
“Safety and wellbeing is our No. 1 priority,” a company spokeswoman said. “While we have asked suppliers to exercise caution, we have not canceled supplier meetings. We have instituted measures to protect both AAM associates and visitors.”
S&P credit analyst Vittoria Ferraris has estimated “up to one-half” of vehicles and components that would normally be produced in China could be affected if shutdowns are extended further. Production at many plants across China has been halted through Feb. 9.
Toyota Motor Corp. plans to resume production in China on Feb. 10 although the date could change if the situation worsens. The company is also exploring alternative sources for key parts produced in China.
“We are looking very closely at inventories of components which are made in China and used in other countries, including Japan, and at the possibility of alternative production,” Toyota Operating Officer Masayoshi Shirayanagi said at a news conference Thursday.
BMW Group’s joint venture with Brilliance said on Wednesday the Chinese company planned to restart production on Feb. 17, according to a post on its social media sites.
Subaru Corp. is checking with China-based suppliers for potential disruptions to parts deliveries from the coronavirus outbreak.
Subaru Senior Vice President Fumiaki Hayata said that communication with the company’s Chinese partners is difficult now because of the ongoing Lunar New Year holiday, but as of now parts supply hasn’t been affected by the disease.
However, he added that the complex nature of the global supply chain means it would be unusual for there not to be some effect, and it is difficult to assess what the impact could be.
The company is not yet seeking alternative suppliers of parts that are most at risk of disruption, he said.
Ferrari said it can offset weakness in China if it was for a few months.
Ford Motior Co. has excluded any potential impact from its already weaker-than-expected forecast for the year, saying it was too early to make an estimate. The company is still hoping to resume large parts of its operations in China next week.
Brembo, an Italian maker of premium brakes, has seen no major impact on its operations from the coronavirus outbreak in China, where it runs a production site in the city of Nanjing, Chairman Alberto Bombassei said Wednesday.
“The immediate impact is very limited because what we make in the Chinese plants stays in China,” Bombassei said at an event in Milan.
He said he expected production in Nanjing to restart on Feb. 10, after a prolonged break for the Chinese New Year.
French auto parts maker Valeo is not experiencing any major disruption to supply chains in China, CEO Jacques Aschenbroich said on Wednesday.
Last month, Valeo said it would be extending plant closures in Wuhan until at least Feb. 13. Valeo operates three sites in Wuhan, which employ 1,900 people.
Alexa St. John contributed to this story.