“This is the worst situation we’ve faced since the war,” a source close to Toyota told the Yomiuri Shimbun. The Japanese car industry is facing post-war-like shortages when it comes to auto parts. Toyota is short 150 parts positions, which can be anything from a bolt to a complete dashboard.
Dealerships are empty – of cars. Test drive cars do double duty as display vehicles. “We get a lot of customers coming in, but we don’t have cars to sell them,” a salesperson told the Tokyo paper.
Major Japanese carmakers have restarted production at the beginning of last week, but plants are only operating at about 50 percent of their normal output. Toyota does not expect to be back to normal before the end of the year.
Japanese automakers have reported a 57.5 percent reduction in production for March – a month that had only its second half affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. April numbers are expected to be worse. What’s more, overseas production is just beginning to be affected. “
In the meantime, Toshiyuki Shiga, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, said what many refuse to accept: Japanese automakers simply don’t know what the near future will bring.
“Generally speaking, car makers are in a situation where they can’t fix their production volumes, even though this is an importantelement of their business,” Shiga, who is also COO at Nissan, told The Nikkei [sub]. “We hope (investors) will understand.”