Japanese automobile giant Toyota says it will halt production at all 28 lines of its 14 plants in Japan starting March 1, after a "system failure" at a supplier caused problems with its just-in-time production control system.
The partner company, Kojima Industries, supplies Toyota with parts used in the vehicle's exterior as well as composite and plastic parts used in the vehicle's interior, including air-conditioning and steering wheel components. Even though there was nothing physically wrong with the equipment, the error prevented the supplier from communicating with Toyota or monitoring production, AP reports.
"It is true that we have been hit by some kind of cyberattack. We are still confirming the damage and we are hurrying to respond, with the top priority of resuming Toyota's production system as soon as possible," an official close to Kojima Industries told the Nikkei business daily.
Kojima is not the only Toyota partner affected by the mysterious malfunction. Two Japanese production plants belonging to Toyota group truckmaker Hino Motors and one plant belonging to Toyota affiliate Daihatsu Motor are also affected by the shutdown.
A supply chain attack tends to be especially disruptive for organizations such as Toyota, which relies on just-in-time manufacturing. Parts from suppliers go straight to the production line and are not stockpiled, which means anything delaying or preventing parts from being delivered immediately has an impact on production.
Toyota did not confirm that the malfunction was the result of a cyberattack, and the origins of the cyberattack, the malware used, and the scope of the damage caused is currently unknown.
Toyota did not say when it expects to reopen the plants and resume production. "We will also continue to work with our suppliers in strengthening the supply chain and make every effort to deliver vehicles to our customers as soon as possible," Toyota says in its statement.
The Japanese government, led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is also involved in the investigation.