TOKYO: Japanese automakers have started to resume their production gradually in the United States and Europe after suspensions due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
But their operations are far from returning to full capacity as vehicle demand has slumped globally.
Parts procurement "is still on a tightrope," an official of a major automaker said.
Despite the progress in the Western countries, Japanese automakers are not sure when they can return to regular production on a global scale, because of persistent uncertainties in emerging economies including Southeast Asia, industry sources said.
Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Subaru Corp. have resumed production at their plants in North America suspended from March 23.
Nissan Motor Co. is due to resume its US plant operations in stages over a month from later this month. Mazda Motor Corp. plans to restart production in Mexico on June 1.
In Europe, Toyota restarted production in France, Poland and elsewhere.
In Russia, production resumed at Toyota on Monday and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Wednesday. Nissan expects a similar move by the end of May.
Toyota and Nissan are preparing to restart production in Britain on May 26 and in early June, respectively.
In emerging economies, Toyota, Honda and Nissan have yet to figure out when to resume production due to confusion caused by the spread of COVID-19.
By contrast, Suzuki Motor Corp. partially resumed production in India on Tuesday.
In Indonesia, where restrictions on people's movements remain in place, Honda will continue its production suspension until May 31. Daihatsu Motor Co. has no clear schedule for resuming production there.
Toyota and Honda will halt their Brazilian production until June 19 and June 25, respectively.
Automakers are finding it difficult to boost production volume because vehicle demand slumped amid deterioration in consumer sentiment, industry sources said.
"It's important to coordinate global parts procurement," Honda Executive Vice President Seiji Kuraishi said.