Thousands of imported vehicles damaged in Tianjin blast

Automakers scrambled to assess damage to their cars and facilities after massive explosions tore through the industrial area at the port city of Tianjin, where most auto vehicles enter/exit the country.

The blasts that originated from a chemical warehouse were so strong that it damaged properties within a few-kilometre radius, and killed at least 50 people and injuring more than 700.

About 40% of imported cars enter China through the Tianjin port, which is more than half a million units, according to 2014 data. Thousands of new cars were parked in the vicinity, waiting to be shipped off to their intended location.

Volkswagen appears to be the hardest hit so far, losing 2,750 cars, mostly Touareg’s. Renault reported that almost 1,500 of its imported cars, which were stored in a warehouse at the port, had been burnt. Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, which makes Subaru cars, said that more than 100 cars from Japan were awaiting clearance in a warehouse located about 2 kilometres from the blast site, and were damaged by broken windows.

Toyota, which Chinese JV partner is the FAW Group, said that the explosion destroyed the windows at its car assembly, logistics and research facilities. Fortunately, the Toyota buildings had been closed for the summer holidays and none of their people were hurt. “In our current view, the damage isn’t that severe,” a Toyota spokesman said.

Hyundai and Kia Motors had 4,000 cars parked near the blast site, but have not released any details on the extent of the damages. Audi reported slight damage to 100 of their vehicles. BMW has two vehicle distribution centres in the area, but has not been able examine their properties because the area had been cordoned off. Mazda Motor had more than 50 Japan imports with surface damage. Other automakers with cars parked at the port, like Ford Motor and Nissan Motor, are still assessing their loses.

We’re sure that the automakers have insurance, and they have their priorities right. As a VW spokeswoman said, “We have a task force in the area to find out more and which is primarily concerned with the well being of our employees.”

images: Reuters via Malay Mail, Carbuzz

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