Japan Earthquake Triggers Car Buying Panic

Panic Car Buying of Japanese Cars As Shortages Worsen

The deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 this year resulted in production shutdowns affecting the supply of cars like the Toyota Yaris, Toyota Prius hybrid, the Mazda2 and Honda Fit subcompacts, as well as many other Japan-built economy cars.

Now it appears that the disruptions in the auto industry are about to worsen.  Much of the auto industry in Japan – the second largest global supplier of cars – remains idle.  Though few plants suffered serious damage, with water and electricity supplies being fleeting, it is hard to say when operations at the factories will speed up again.  Some experts think this could only be possible as late as this summer.

buying japanese cars

The Japanese auto manufacturers who have closed most of their local facilities say a few of their overseas plants might also shut down to conserve supplies.  Honda and Toyota said they expect shutdowns at their North American plants.  At Honda, production is expected to be hit after April 1.  That is because though most of its components are sourced locally, a few key parts still come from Japan.  Read more »

Toyota, Honda Assembly Lines Affected by Quake

Toyota, Honda suspend plant operations

The recent mega-earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan have had a negative impact on the operations of many auto manufacturers in the country.  Many Japanese automakers have had to either suspend or reduce their plant operations since parts manufacturers in many regions including Tohoku that were affected by the quake, cannot easily procure parts.

toyota assembly line

About 20,000 to 30,000 parts are needed for manufacturing vehicles and automakers cannot assemble them if even one part is not available.  Recently, automakers had increased vehicle exports mainly to China and Asian countries, but now their presence in overseas markets could diminish due to the deteriorating supply.

Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. in Japan announced plans to put off resumption of car assembly given the current problems in parts supply after the destruction in the Tohoku region following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  Since the two major auto manufacturers show no signs of resuming production, vehicle output will surely be suspended for a long period.

Toyota, which is the world’s largest car maker, had earlier decided to suspend car assembly till Tuesday, but has now decided not to resume operations until Sunday.  So the automaker will stop car assembly for a total of 11 operating days, exceeding the 3 ½ day suspension after the powerful earthquake in 2007 in the Niigata Prefecture.  During this lengthy period, Toyota will stop production of around 140,000 units. Read more »

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Earthquake, Tsunami affect Auto Industry in Japan

Auto Industry Shuts Down in Post-Quake Japan

Japan is one of those few countries that are well prepared for natural disasters like earthquakes.  But even in Japan there was chaos and widespread destruction and suffering after its northeastern coast was battered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The earthquake whose magnitude has been recorded as 9.0, unleashed huge tsunami waves up to 10 meters (33 ft) in height within minutes of striking Japan, washing away cars and ships and even buildings in the coastal area near the epicenter.  Several Japanese car companies had to completely suspend vehicle production.

quake tsunami japan cars

Many automakers like Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Suzuki have not only their headquarters in Japan, but also key manufacturing facilities located there as well.  Since many of these plants have now been shut down this could also affect sales of models in countries overseas.

One of the factors preventing a regular production schedule at Japanese auto facilities is the concern for employee security and safety.  In addition, infrastructure has been severely damaged in major industrial areas, there are rolling blackouts being introduced because of the damage to the power grid, and suppliers are struggling to logistically organize the delivery of vital supplies and components to the ravaged areas of the country.

Since major auto factories are located close to the most badly affected earthquake areas, five of Japan’s largest automakers have temporarily shut down their production lines.  Toyota has suspended activities till around March 16.  But Nissan (March 18), Honda (March 20), Mazda (March 20), and Subaru (March 21) will be confronting a longer idle period.  At Suzuki, plants will be closed until March 17, while Mitsubishi has already resumed production of its own after a short shutdown.

Another fall-out of the recent tragedy is that Japanese automotive parts have had their shipments to American and European automobile companies disrupted.  Read more »

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