By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACTION Magazine
The corporate ripples resulting from the natural disaster in Japanon March 11th continue to spread through the industry. Most of the news refers to production of new vehicles, but rest assured that the supply of spare parts will be slowed as well.
Just past mid-April,Toyota announced production cut-backs at its North American plants in response to shortages of at least 150 assorted components. The company said U.S and Canadian plants will suspend production on Mondays and Fridays and operate at 50 percent output midweek.
Additionally, Canadian production will be suspended for the week of May 23 to accommodate the scheduled Victoria Day holiday, andU.S.production will be suspended the week of May 30 for the Memorial Day holiday. There was no word as to what parts are causing the delays, and the company said its production plans beyond June 3 will be determined at a later date.
On April 22nd, Toyota amended those dates, saying “… that global production will begin to ramp up as soon as July in Japan and August in North America, with all models back to normal production by November or December 2011. The one month difference in the start date is due to the time required to ship parts fromJapanto overseas plants.”
Honda has also cut back U.S production but hasn’t revealed the extent of the cuts; industry watchers estimate it to be around 50 percent as well. While Honda sources a large majority of parts from non-Japanese sources, the few parts it can’t get anywhere else are starting to delay the assembly lines.
Nissan has reported that five affected plants inJapanhave returned to some output, but those factories are still hampered by conditions in the home country. Nissan plants in theU.S.are operating on reduced hours, and some plants have moved “non-production” days (usually used for cleaning, training and so on) up on the calendar.
The smaller vehicle makers with a larger proportional footprint in Japan (for example Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mazda, Suzuki) are also hard-hit and continue on limited output schedules. The Japanese plants are also hindered by the electricity rationing, closed shipping ports and destroyed or damaged land transport routes.
Some manufacturers have shifted production to crank out only the most popular models, while others are trying to maintain “a little of everything” to maintain the product mix. Almost all Japanese OEMs have notified their North American dealers to be prepared for reduced availability and delayed delivery of new cars and spare parts.
Readingbetween the lines in the news releases, it’s plain the Japanese car industry will not return to anywhere near normal until at least June, July or even later. By then, it is estimated that they will have lost (not produced) half a million vehicles or more.
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