Toyota Motor Corporation experienced a major technical disruption on Tuesday that forced the automaker to suspend operations at all 14 of its vehicle assembly facilities in Japan.
The stoppage was caused by a failure within Toyota’s computer systems used for parts ordering and logistics. As a result, the factories had to halt production lines upon opening in the morning.
Toyota stated the root cause remains under investigation but preliminary assessments suggest the malfunction was unlikely the result of a cyberattack. The company is working urgently to identify the issue and restore the computer systems.
Initially, Toyota announced 12 plants would be affected, excluding two facilities in Kyushu and Kyoto. But the company revised the impact to include all 14 Japanese assembly plants a short time later.
The sudden disruption follows a similar incident last March when Toyota suspended manufacturing at domestic plants due to a suspected cyberattack on a key parts supplier.
In 2019, Toyota also suffered a major data breach in which hackers accessed personal information of approximately 3.1 million customers globally. The stolen data originated from Toyota dealerships in Japan.
For the current computer glitch, Toyota has not indicated when it expects to resume full production. But with every hour of downtime costing lost output, the automaker is no doubt investigating around the clock.
Toyota can likely weather a short-term supply impact from this disruption. However, an extended multi-day plant shutdown could start creating problems.
As automakers rely increasingly on connected IT systems to manage their complex operations, glitches like this highlight the risks posed by technical vulnerabilities.
But Toyota has overcome supply chain disruptions before, from natural disasters to cyber incidents. The company will be working diligently to get all lines moving again safely and smoothly.
Still, the total halt of Toyota’s domestic production underscores the chaos that simple tech failures can unleash, even at the world’s most elite automakers.