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Coronavirus

Mazda delays restart of Chinese factories amid coronavirus threat

Shutdowns continue as Japanese automakers struggle to control supply chain

Mazda has now delayed the restart of its factory in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, three times.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Mazda Motor has decided to postpone restarting production at its Chinese factories until after Feb. 17 due to the ongoing coronavirus threat.

The Japanese automaker had planned to resume operations at its main factory after Feb. 12, but has delayed the reopening to next week as it struggles to deal with supply chain disruption from the new coronavirus. The plant, located in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, manufactures and assembles SUVs such as those by the brand CX-5. The company also operates an engine factory in the same area, but a restart date for it is still undecided.

Mazda employs around 3,000 workers in the two factories. According to auto market research company MarkLines, the main factory's production capacity is 220,000 vehicles per year, while its engine factory can produce about 430,000 units.

This is the third time Mazda has delayed the restart of its SUV factory.

Mazda's production and sales within China totaled around 220,000 in 2019, accounting for about a 15% market share. Although sales dipped in 2019 due to the downturn of the Chinese market, Mazda had seen a slight improvement in sales late last year. If the factory shutdown continues, sales could be hurt.

Other automakers have also been forced to make similar decisions as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

Earlier this week, Nissan Motor suspended production at a plant operated by its unit in Kyushu, southern Japan, because it faced difficulty in procuring parts from China due to supply chain disruption, with two lines closing on Feb. 14, and another line for exports on Feb. 17.

Toyota Motor has stopped some production at facilities including its Shimoyama factory, which makes parts such as engines. Its four Chinese auto-manufacturing plants will be shut down until Feb. 17.

Additional reporting by Jada Nagumo.

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