A COVID-19 outbreak at one of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada’s major suppliers has halted the automaker’s three Ontario vehicle assembly plants, which produce the top-selling RAV4 crossover at two operations.
There have been eight positive cases “over the past few weeks” at the Toyotetsu plant in Simcoe, Ont., about 76 miles 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.”
Toyota said the operations remained idle on Friday.
"We are monitoring the situation closely and will advise our production employees once the parts supply issue has been resolved," a Toyota spokesman said by e-mail on Friday.
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 Thursday. “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 RAV4, Toyota's top-selling vehicle in the U.S. by a wide margin, was the No. 1 vehicle in the red-hot U.S. compact crossover segment during the first quarter with deliveries surging 17 percent to 114,255 units. The RAV4 also ranks as the fourth best-selling vehicle overall in the U.S., behind the Ford F-Series, Ram and Chevy Silverado.
Toyota also produces the RAV4 in the U.S. at its plant in Georgetown, Ky.
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.