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Old 12-16-2004, 08:12   #1 (permalink)
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Japan:Fire halts production at 2 Mazda plants in Japan

Fire halts production at 2 Mazda plants in Japan

© 2004 Reuters Ltd.

TOKYO - A fire halted production at two of Mazda Motor Corp.'s four Japanese plants although one later came back on-line, the company said on Thursday, adding to problems in an industry already hit by a steel shortage.

The fire broke out on Wednesday night near a painting line at the company's Ujina No.1 plant in Hiroshima, western Japan, burning for about seven hours before being extinguished at 6 a.m., a company spokesman said.

Overnight production had also been suspended at the adjacent Ujina No.2 plant, which makes the Demio subcompact, but operations resumed at 8:30 a.m. Lost production at the two plants last night amounted to 472 vehicles.

Mazda, one-third owned by Ford Motor Co. , said it was still assessing the damage to Ujina No.1 and did not know when production could resume there.

There were no injuries in the fire.

Ujina No.1 builds the Demio, MPV family van, RX-8 and Roadster sports cars and the Verisa hatchback. Its daily output is about 1,000 vehicles.

Mazda's four car assembly plants in Japan produce a combined 898,000 vehicles a year, including 236,000 at Ujina No.1.

The shutdown is the latest setback for Japan's car industry.

Nissan Motor Co., Japan's second-biggest auto maker, and Suzuki Motor Corp. , the country's top minivehicle maker, have cut back production because of a steel shortage.

Toyota Motor Co.p. , Japan's biggest car maker, plans to buy more steel from China and South Korea in the expectation that steel supplies in Japan will remain tight for a long time.

Suzuki said on Thursday it would cut domestic output in the second half to about 500,000 units from the previously expected 530,000 due to the shortage.

Japanese steel makers are operating at full capacity because of strong demand from China.
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