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Computer Glitch Shuts Down 14 Toyota Factories in Japan

Toyota insists the shutdown wasn't caused by a cyberattack, and plans on restarting production Wednesday.
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A computer glitch forced all Toyota plants in Japan to shut down Tuesday. According to The Japan Times, the automaker’s 14 assembly facilities were affected by this computer issue, despite running at pretty much full capacity from January to June of this year. Toyota has downplayed any speculation of a cyberattack directly against its own tech infrastructure.

According to an official statement, the culprit is a glitch in its ordering system which prevents it from ordering any parts from any of its suppliers. Such a glitch might not be an issue with other automakers but Toyota runs a just-in-time ordering system, which reduces overhead and keeps production costs down. So when there’s a glitch in the system, such as this one, an order stoppage also shuts down production.

There’s a growing public concern that this was a cyberattack, due to the threatening calls that Japanese businesses and government offices have been receiving. Ever since Japan released treated wastewater from the melted Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean—which the plant’s operators say is cleaner than international standards—the Chinese government has been antagonistic toward Japan. So much so, in fact, that Japan’s Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning to Japanese citizens traveling to China, as the country’s embassies and even schools in China have been harassed.

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Japan has also seen a worrying number of cybercrimes over the past year, according to the Japan Times. In February of last year, Toyota was affected when one of its supplier’s computer systems was attacked by hackers.

Plants in Japan will only be shut down for one day, as production will resume on Wednesday, Aug. 30. However, that one-day loss of production could cost Toyota as much as 13,000 vehicles across all 14 of its domestic factories. Production at all other global plants is unaffected. North America vehicles such as Tacoma and Tundra pickups and the Sienna minivan won’t be delayed.

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