Nobody dares to say it aloud, but parts of the “Buy American” contingent are secretly high-fifing when bad news from Japan is on TV or on the net. U.S. car companies themselves aren’t so sure, one missing chip, or an absent acceleration sensor can bring a whole line down. And of course they won’t be caught saying something reprehensible. Leave it to the Deutsche Bank and The Nikkei to end the (dis)grace period and to come out with their analysis of which carmaker might gain from the Tohoku tsunami.
First of all, Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache is taking down his 2011 light vehicle U.S. sales forecast from 13 million to 12.5 million. This, says Lache, will be caused by a “severely constrained” supply of vehicles from Japanese auto plants. The supply is and will be restrained alright. How he arrived at his number is anybody’s guess. In my calls to Japanese makers, I hear that they don’t know which and how many cars they will make a few weeks from now, let alone over the whole year.
Who will gain? U.S, automakers, says Lache: “We continue to believe that U.S. auto makers will be only moderately impacted by supply shortages. Therefore, we believe that they will have relatively higher inventory and thus higher market share.”
According to Market Watch, Lache expects GM and Ford to pick up two to three percent of market share this year.
Meanwhile, back at home, Japan’s Nikkei [sub] is focused on another overseas maker: Hyundai.
“Although Hyundai is not completely immune to the supply shortages caused by the quake, it has managed to minimize the impact because it can procure key parts and components elsewhere, including Europe,” writes the Tokyo business daily. An unnamed Hyundai official told the Nikkei: “The quake has had little effect on us.”
On top of it, Hyundai is encroaching on Toyota’s hybrid-heavy territory. They just launched the Sonata Hybrid, due in the U.S. by the end of April and to be launched in South Korea in May. At the launch, Hyundai called its mileage “better than the Toyota Camry hybrid.”
Says The Nikkei [sub]: “Some experts predict that the drops in sales by Japanese carmakers in China, the U.S. and Europe due to the quake will be covered by South Korean makers. The Hyundai Motor group plans to increase sales by 10 percent on the year to 6.33 million units this year, but many observers expect that outlook to be upgraded.”