The Japanese automaker announced Tuesday that production at some of its plants in North America, including Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, would immediately start slowing production due to an insufficient supply of certain parts. The tsunami, which ravaged parts of Japan on March 11, has hindered the productivity of many auto suppliers there.
“Most of our Japan-based parts suppliers have either resumed production or are ready to restart their operations,” said Honda Manufacturing spokesman Mark Morrison. “However, there are a few suppliers which have yet to resolve the challenge to resume their production. In those cases, Honda is working with its suppliers to help reestablish their operations, while evaluating other possible sources for those parts in the supply chain.”
Still, the United States is the country of origin for the vast majority of parts supplied to Honda plants in North America, Morrison said.
Morrison could not say how much production time would be lost or how long the slowdown would likely last. However, he did say production levels would vary from day to day.
The announcement is a reversal from what Honda said a few weeks ago. In a previous statement, Honda said it would likely be unaffected by the tsunami because it had plenty of parts in stock.
“Now, as we continue to understand the situation of the supplier base … we understand things are very fluid and we adjust day to day,” Morrison said.
But even with a slowdown in production, Honda employees will still have the opportunity to work and be paid full salaries, Morrison said.
“An (employee) can stay at work during non-production time and we will schedule work for them such as maintenance or training,” Morrison said.
He added that employees could also opt to take paid vacation days during non-production times or simply decide to leave and not get paid.
“These are all things we did for employees when the economy was really bad,” Morrison said, referring to when the recession began in 2008.
The $1.5 billion Honda Lincoln plant employs approximately 4,000 people and is the sole North American producer of the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot sports utility vehicle and the Ridgeline pickup truck.