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Mississippi Auto Makers Could Face Cutbacks

By Daniel Cherry | Published 25 Mar 2011 04:11pm | comments

The catastrophic earthquake and tsunami has brought some Japanese businesses to halt operations. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on what it could mean for auto manufacturing in Mississippi.

Auto makers across the nation reliant on Japanese parts might have to scale back operations unless Japan's auto industry can rebound very quickly. Mississippi is home to the Nissan plant in Canton. Plant director Don Stoegbauer says they won't be certain of the impact until the end of the month.

"We're evaluating and tracking our supply of parts into April. Right now we don't have enough visibility to know that we will or won't run. I'm sure we will be impacted, but we don't have an understanding of that impact right now."

Stoegbauer says Nissan will have to re evaluate operations at the beginning of the new fiscal year April 1st. The Toyota plant in Blue Springs is scheduled to open later this year. Toyota has said it expects to halt production at some of it's North American plants. David Copenhaver Vice president of the Toyota plant says any cutbacks shouldn't have an impact on operations in Mississippi.
"There's been no discussion of anything that would delay the start of Blue Springs plant. We're not scheduled to start actual production until the Fall of this year so hopefully by that time the parts situation will all be cleared up."

Until then Copenhaver says Toyota is continuing to expand.

"It's going wide open right now. We've hired over 500 people, started hiring production team members at the beginning of the year and we'll continue to hire them throughout the rest of this year."

And Copenhaver also says don't be surprised if Mississippi auto suppliers take advantage of shortfalls in parts supplies.

"We're always competing for business, and we have a lot of parts makers in North America. I'm sure they'd like to compete for as much business as they can."

Nissan said last week it is considering moving some of its engine production to plants to North America following damage to Iwaki engine plant in Japan. 

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