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Aftershock: Earthquake, tsunami cause Japanese automakers to halt production

Consumer Reports News: March 14, 2011 05:10 PM

The huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan last week has affected a number of automakers and their production capabilities. Not only are their main headquarters in Japan, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota all have key facilities there, too. With various plants from these automakers have been closed, there could be an affect on models that are sold in the United States.

Here are the details of these seven Japanese manufacturers and the potential supply impact to this country.

Honda: Some Honda plants are closed through today, but there is no immediate impact on Honda's American operations, as 80 percent of Honda and Acura vehicles are produced in North America for this market and the majority of parts are locally sourced, as well. The Honda CR-Z, Fit, and Insight, and Acura TSX and RL are produced in Japan and a small percentage of CR-Vs, but Honda does not see any major impact on availability. They will continue to assess the damage and long-term impact of their operations.

Mazda: The company has suspended production at two plants for the night shift through Wednesday due to the electricity shortages.

Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi will resume production of vehicles on Wednesday after a two day halt, according to Bloomberg.

Nissan: The global headquarters was not affected and is operational, but a number of plants have reported damage; production is suspended at four until Wednesday and two facilities until Friday. Damage has been reported to 1,300 U.S.-bound vehicles and 1,000 vehicles stored at a service center. A number of dealerships have been severely damaged especially those close to the earthquake's epicenter.

Subaru: The company is halting production until Wednesday, according to Automotive News. Both the Forester and Impreza are manufactured in Japan for the U.S. market.

Suzuki: There is currently no reported impact for Suzuki headquarters and manufacturing plants, but automaker is assessing the affect of operations including supplies and dealership operations in Japan.

Toyota: The company is halting production at all plants through Wednesday, including those that produce the U.S. version of the Toyota Yaris, and Scion xB and xD. Toyota's corporate headquarters are not affected, but they are assessing the damage at the plants and dealerships and looking at the impact to North American import vehicles. According to Bloomberg, Toyota's lost output could top 40,000 vehicles.

It is clear that all Japanese auto manufacturers have been affected by the earthquake tragedy in some way, but the full extent of the damage is still being assessed, as is the damage to the ports, ships, and related crews that are necessary to transport the models overseas. We'll know more about the impact to North American imports and what that could mean for U.S. car buyers in the days and weeks to come. For now, there is ample days' supply to ensure dealerships remain stocked for the foreseeable future.

-- Liza Barth

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