A COVID-19 outbreak at one of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada’s major suppliers has halted the automaker’s Ontario vehicle assembly plants, which produce its top-selling RAV4 crossover.
There have been eight positive cases “over the past few weeks” at the Toyotetsu plant in Simcoe, Ont., about 123 kilometres northwest of Toronto, according to a statement from the supplier.
“For this reason, and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to temporarily pause our operations,” the company said. “We are working closely with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit regarding the safe restarting of our operations.”
Toyotetsu says “the vast majority of these cases have not been linked to on-site transmission.”
About 1,200 people work at the supplier. Toyotetsu manufactures body and chassis parts for all three of Toyota’s assembly plants in the province.
“Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada has paused production at our North (Cambridge), South (Cambridge) and West (Woodstock) facilities today,” Toyota Canada spokesman Michael Bouliane said in a statement to Automotive News Canada on April 29. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will advise our production employees once the parts supply issue has been resolved.”
The production stoppage affects the Toyota RAV, RAV4 hybrid, Lexus RX 350 and the RX 450h Hybrid. Toyota’s assembly plants employ more than 8,000 workers.
The RAV-4 was Toyota’s top-selling vehicle in Canada during the first quarter of the year, with 15,665 sold and up 44.8 per cent over the same time last year.
It’s not clear when production will resume at Toyotetsu.
“As we continue to follow [Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit] guidance, a return-to-work date will be determined,” the supplier said.