TOKYO (May 6, 2011)—The massive earthquake that struck the northeast coast of Japan's main island March 11 apparently did not affect production at the nation's four tire makers enough to disrupt measurably supplies to dealers in North America.
Of Japan's four tire makers, Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. appears to be the one most affected by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, with its Sendai, Japan, plant off-line completely for more than a week and able to ramp up gradually to only 70 percent of capacity by mid-April.
Toyo Tire Holdings Americas Inc. declined to comment directly on the impact of the production interruption on supplies to dealers in North America, deferring all questions to official statements from the parent company.
The most recent statement, from April 12, said: “The plan for the future is to step up the rate of operations in stages while responding flexibly to supply and logistical issues, so that by May, operations may resume at full capacity.”
Japan's other tire makers—Bridgestone Corp., Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd., and Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.—are reporting their factories that initially were forced to shut have since returned to normal or near normal operations.
Each reports the production interruptions from the quake had little or no effect on their abilities to supply customers in North America with tires.
None of the Japanese tire makers reported any casualties among their employees.