Japanese automakers delayed the restart of plants in China near the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, in compliance with local directives, raising the risk of further supply disruptions that could affect global car production. Nissan Motor Co said it would keep its plants in Xianyang, Hubei Province, and Zhengzhou, Henan Province, shuttered after February 24, when it had planned to resume operations. It did not give a new date for reopening. Honda Motor Co said operations at its plants in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, would remain suspended until March 11.
In an email, Nissan said the delay was due to the latest government directive by Hubei authorities, who asked firms to keep operations shut down through March 10. Output issues at its suppliers were also affecting vehicle production, it said. The coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,200 in mainland China, has wreaked havoc on the global automotive supply chain, stalling production at plants in China and leaving automakers scrambling to source the roughly 30,000 parts needed for each car.
China's manufacturing sector is struggling to restart after an extended Lunar New Year break, hindered by travel and quarantine restrictions in many parts of the country. Suspended output at Nissan's two plants, which make the X-Trail SUV crossover and the Altima sedan in a joint venture with China's Dongfeng Motor, comes as the automaker is already struggling to recover profitability after the arrest of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, in 2018. Nissan has also reduced output at some of its plants in Japan over issues with procuring components. It said that there has been no impact on its other global plants.