HANS GREIMEL

Suzuki’s drastic quake insurance plan: Move shop

Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
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TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor Corp. isn’t taking chances when the next Big One hits Japan.

With most of its manufacturing and r&d facilities clustered along a stretch of Pacific coast long pegged as the epicenter for the country’s next disastrous earthquake, Suzuki is taking action.

The plan: Invest 40 billion yen ($494 million) to move factories and research labs from the coastal area of Hamamatsu city to an inland site on higher ground, Japan’s Nikkei business daily says.

Images of the destruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami obviously struck a chord. Adding to Suzuki’s concern is its operations’ proximity to the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, which is being reinforced so it won’t experience the meltdowns that afflicted the Fukushima plant during the last quake.

“When you consider the risks of earthquake, tsunami, radiation and liquefaction, an executive who ignores realignment is set for failure,” Chairman Osamu Suzuki was quoted as saying.

Scientists say there is an 87 percent chance of a magnitude-8.0 quake hitting the Hamamatsu coastline in the so-called Tokai region between Tokyo and Nagoya in the next 30 years.

Suzuki’s insurance plan calls for buying 270,000 square meters (67 acres) of land about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inland and 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the nuclear station.

The site will still be in Hamamatsu city, but farther from the coast.

The move will begin this fall and take up to three years, the Nikkei says. Research facilities will head to the inland site, and a new plant for electric vehicles is also expected.

In addition, Suzuki is looking into moving automobile engine production from its plant in Makinohara, near the nuclear plant. It is checking sites in Japan and abroad, the newspaper said.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter

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