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Coronavirus

Suzuki and Honda shut production in India to free up oxygen

Government urges manufacturers to free up oxygen for medical use

People carry an oxygen cylinder outside a factory to get it refilled in New Delhi.   © Reuters

MUMBAI -- Surging COVID-19 infections have forced Suzuki, Honda and Toyota to temporarily idle production in India as the government urges manufacturers to redirect industrial-use oxygen for medical use. 

Maruti Suzuki will shut down two auto plants in Manesar and Gurugram from Saturday through May 9 to free up oxygen used for manufacturing. The plants will advance their regular maintenance closures, which usually take place in June.

"In the current situation, we believe that all available oxygen should be used to save lives," Maruti Suzuki said in a statement.

Likewise, Suzuki Motor Gujarat, which produces four-wheel vehicles on a contract basis, will also idle its plant.

Honda announced Thursday that it will halt motorcycle production at its four plants from Saturday through May 15. 

Toyota Kirloskar Motor's two plants at Bidadi in Karnataka state, which shut down Monday for annual maintenance, will remain closed through May 14.

Panasonic has also idled some facilities producing home appliances. 

India is facing an acute oxygen shortage as the country grapples with the devastating second wave of coronavirus infections. 

India's daily infections have exceeded 300,000 in April, the most in the world and three times the levels seen during the peak in 2020. 

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