Remember the story about the rotating power rationing in Japan? One for all, all for one? It appears that it is pure fantasy. On Saturday, The Nikkei [sub] wrote that Japanese automakers are considering running their factories in rotation to help cut the industry’s electricity consumption. The wire service said that “automakers are expected to hold a consultative meeting shortly at the office of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to agree a rotational schedule.” The story had originated on the usually reliable and sometimes uncomfortably persistent Kyodo wire. On Monday, the story grew legs. Automotive News [sub] reported that the electronic industries don’t want to be left behind and demand rotating production holidays between the automotive and electronics industries. It now emerges that it was all wishful thinking.
Today, I called a few members of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to find out how the meeting went and what was decided. All JAMA members contacted said that there was no such meeting. There wasn’t even such a plan.
One industry insider said “I saw the Kyodo story last week. Closing 7-11 on Monday, Family Mart on Tuesday and Lawson’s on Wednesday sounds like a simple idea. The problem is, the car industry isn’t that simple.”
A contact at another JAMA member said: “If anyone should know about this meeting, then it’s me. I don’t know about this meeting.”
All industry sources contacted confirmed that the lack of reliable power is a huge problem. “We can fix our plants. We can give our suppliers the assistance they need,” said an executive at a leading JAMA member. “We wish we could provide our suppliers with power.”
Once the usually hot and humid summer has arrived in Japan, the power problem will be much bigger than now. According to the manufacturers, there is no simple solution in sight, not even a complicated one. All they know is that the power will be scarce and more expensive.
Who would have thought that a lack of electricity will put a big dent into the Japanese, and by extension the world’s auto industry?