Thailand’s worst floods in 50 years have slashed Japanese automakers' output by about 6,000 units a day and forced Sony to delay the launches of some cameras and lens kits, the electronics company and a car industry body said on Thursday.
The natural disaster, now threatening Bangkok, has echoes of the supply chain disruption caused by Japan's earthquake and tsunami, and has affected a raft of Japanese firms.
Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga, who is also chief operating officer for Nissan Motor Co, told reporters he could not say when production would be restored at Japanese plants in Thailand.
The floods are expected to cause Thailand's auto sector, the biggest in Southeast Asia, to miss its output target of 1.8 million units this year, an executive at Honda Motor Co said earlier this week.
Separately, Sony, the world's second-largest maker of digital cameras after Canon, said the global launch of its NEX-7 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera would be delayed indefinitely from the previous date of 11 November, while the Japanese launch of another model would also be delayed.
Sony's Thai camera factory, one of three plants it has in the country, is flooded, while production has been stopped at its Thai semiconductor plant due to supply shortages, the company said.
Sony has decided to move some camera production to other factories in Japan and China and possibly to a car audio plant in Thailand that is still operating as normal, a spokesman said.
Availability of computer hard disk drives will also be constrained, says supplier Origin Storage Solutions. Two Western Digital factories have been affected and one of Seagate’s, with component supply also disrupted and distribution hit by damage to infrastructure.
Some of the flood-hit manufacturers at five industrial estates in Thailand's central Ayutthaya province could be up and running again from the middle of December, a local official said on Wednesday.
Honda said earlier it expects to resume operations at its plant in the Rojana industrial estate a month after floodwater is drained from the complex, which was forced to shut on Oct. 6.
The floods in the north, northeast and centre of the country have killed at least 317 people since July, swamping industrial estates and farmland in the world's top rice exporter.
Twenty-seven of the country’s 76 provinces have been affected, covering some 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) -- an area roughly 16 times the size of Hong Kong.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra defended her government's response to the floods on Wednesday as troops battled to protect industrial centres and Bangkok braced for rising waters.
After just two months in office, the Yingluck government has faced criticism over its conflicting messages and slow response to the disaster. Provisional damage estimates vary, but could reach as much as $5 billion, according to the government.
Yingluck said public morale needed to be lifted and politicians, businesses and the public needed to unite to speed up recovery and minimise losses.
The capital has seen only minor flooding on its outskirts but seven of its northern districts were put on alert on Wednesday, with 200 families evacuated and others told to move cars and valuables to higher ground.