Operations remain on hold in Japan.
In an expected and troubling announcement, Toyota has confirmed it is suspended full factory operations in Japan starting Tuesday, March 1 following what appears to be a cyber attack. To be clear, this does not affect the automaker's US operations in Kentucky, where the Camry, RAV4 Hybrid, and Lexus ES are manufactured, among other models. In Japan, however, the shutdown means an estimated 13,000 vehicles won't be produced.
The Japanese shutdown involves a total of 28 assembly lines in 14 factories. Toyota officially states this is a "system failure" at one of its suppliers, Kojima Industries Corporation. A report coming from the Nikkei business daily, however, claims the reality is that it's a cyber attack coming from a still-unknown source. "It is true that we have been hit by some kind of cyber attack," said someone associated with the supplier but wishes to remain anonymous.
"We are still confirming the damage and we are hurrying to respond, with the top priority of resuming Toyota's production system as soon as possible." Toyota has acknowledged there's a problem but won't specifically define it as a cyber attack.
"We will also continue to work with our suppliers in strengthening the supply chain and make every effort to deliver vehicles to our customers as soon as possible," Toyota said in a statement. For now, the shutdown will last one day because it's still unknown whether or not the attack can be successfully suppressed within 24 hours. Kojima manufactures critical components such as inverter covers, door pockets, cup holders, battery packs, and antenna modules.
This is a very different scenario than the semiconductor chip shortage. That list of components is critical for final assembly. Some features, like heated seats, that require those chips can simply be deleted or installed later. Toyota, like all automakers, has been plagued by production delays off and on over the past year. The global pandemic set that process in motion.
Earlier this month, some North American operations took a hit during the bridge blockade and protestors in Canada. But this cyber attack is something very different. It's deliberate and must serve as a reminder to all automakers of their potential security vulnerabilities.