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Japan Update: Asian, American and European Car Production Woes Shared

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

In addition to claiming thousands of lives and displacing countless others, the earthquake in Japan has had a catastrophic effect on the global automotive industry. Here’s a look at which manufacturers are affected, and how badly:

  • Along with its luxury brand Acura, Honda was among the most severely affected automakers, suspending production of its Civic Hybrid and CR-Z as well as the Acura RL and TSX through April 11. Honda has also been faced with a parts shortage, forcing it to drastically scale back domestic production, with some factories manufacturing at less than half of their normal output.
  • Toyota has faced serious production delays and is beginning to see shortages of some models, including the popular Prius, at dealers. The earthquake took its greatest toll on the Yaris, manufactured directly in the quake zone, with Toyota announcing the subcompact will be out of production for at least another month. The automaker also made headlines recently for announcing it would begin rationing parts to dealers to prevent hoarding.
  • Although March was Nissan’s best-ever U.S. sales month, trouble is looming on the horizon for the Japanese automaker. In addition to losing more than 2,000 cars to fires at ports, Nissan says the earthquake caused a 55,000-unit production loss and affected manufacturing of its new Leaf electric car. The automaker has also taken the unusual step of importing engines manufactured in the U.S. to Japan – something it’s never done before.  
  • It wasn’t just Japanese auto manufacturers affected by the quake – the Big Three felt it too. Ford and Chrysler restricted dealers from ordering black and red cars due to pigment from a Japanese supplier, while General Motors temporarily laid off thousands of workers manufacturing the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in its Shreveport, Louisiana, plant as well as a New York plant supplying engines for the pickups. More temporary layoffs may come from all three automakers if Japan-sourced parts continue to be in short supply.
  • While European automakers haven’t seen a major impact from the quake, some have been affected. BMW halted all exports to Japan due to supply chain disruptions; Volkswagen announced it could face production delays; and Jaguar had to slow production of its XF sedan because of a lack of Japanese-made LCD screens for its infotainment system. Hardest hit was Volvo, whose commercial trucks division was forced to temporarily cease Japanese production following the disaster.
  • The only automotive nationality unscathed by the disaster is South Korea. Hyundai and Kia continue to produce at record rates, with both automakers announcing they expected no manufacturing delays due to the Japanese quake.
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Japan Update: Asian, American and European Car Production Woes Shared - Autotrader