Tag: earthquake

By on May 28, 2013

 

After the March 11 monster earthquake and tsunami wiped out large parts of Japan, headlines focused on the near-meltdown of Fukushima. Recently, I learned that there was a strong likelihood of a worldwide economic meltdown, caused by a microchip factory 80 miles south of Fukushima. Here is the story of how the crisis was contained. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2012

Japan’s carmakers are preparing for the next big one, and move to higher ground, says The Nikkei [sub]. Many Japanese car plants are near or next to the water, some on reclaimed land. Large level tracts are rare in Japan, and by building cars at the waterfront, the ship can  come to your loading dock.  After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, perspectives changed.   (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2012

Today, at 2:46 pm, Japan came to a stand-still, again. Trains and subways stopped. People did fold their hands, faced in the general direction of the northeastern coast of Tohoku, and said a silent prayer. Japan and the world marked the one year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that left whole towns razed, more than 19,000 people dead or missing, 344,000 people displaced, and a large area around the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi power plant off-limits for decades, if not permanently.

Writers often like to equate the power released by the quake to the nuclear bombs that had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Depending on who you read and believe, it was anywhere between 31,700 and 600 million Hiroshima bombs. Large parts of the coastal areas are dotted with huge, neatly stacked piles of rubble which nobody wants to take and nobody knows what to do with. The devastation was so big that it turned into an attraction on Google Earth.  Considering the immense damage, it is amazing how quickly the country did rebound. On Friday, I visited what was presented to me as an emblem of the amazing turn-around, Toyota’s plant in Kanegasaki, Iwate Prefecture. Here, 1,700 employees are working overtime to build Toyota’s Aqua / Prius c, for which everybody is screaming. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2012

When the March 11 tsunami hit, observers thought that of Japan’s major automakers, Honda would be the least exposed. Most of its global production already is outside of Japan. Very few cars that are produced in Japan are exported. Toyota and Nissan looked much more vulnerable. Distrust predictions: Today, Honda presented the results for the last quarter of 2011. The numbers  look uglier than the cars in the video. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2011

The Japanese car market is in the midst of the worst crisis since 1978. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association expects auto sales in Japan to fall to a 34-year low in the current fiscal year that ends in March 2012. This as a result of the severe production drop, triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2011

Pronounced near-dead in 1999, Nissan has made a remarkable, but often unnoticed turn-around ever since. With little fanfare, the Yokohama company passed Honda as Japan’s second largest auto maker. In China, the land of car growth, Nissan sold 1.3 million cars last year, became largest Japanese brand and has expansion plans for 2.3 million.  Nissan is also the company that recovered fastest from the March 11 tsunami. With only 25 percent of its world output in Japan, Nissan had less exposure that Honda, and especially Toyota. It also was lucky: Nissan could duck the chip shortage that hit Toyota and Honda with full force. Nissan’s engine factory in Iwaki is 60 miles away from Fukushima. A little closer, and it would still be closed. Instead, it was back up and running two months after the disaster. One of the most horrific years for Japan and the Japanese auto industry is shaping up to be the defining year for Nissan. Nissan’s biggest problem: Not enough cars. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2011

Now that the effects of the March 11 tsunami are behind the Japanese auto industry, carmakers are pulling out all stops to make up for lost volume. Only to run into new problems: “Shortages of tires and other autoparts are a growing concern,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. The new shortage is tsunami-unrelated. Its reason: Bad old supply and demand. (Read More…)

By on August 3, 2011

 

The race for bragging rights amongst the top three promises to stay interesting throughout the year. Toyota just issued new forecasts which pegs global production across all Toyota Motor Corp. brands at 8.04 million. This should worry Wolfsburg. Volkswagen was seen as the clear number 2 after GM in the 2011 race. Now matters are not so sure. (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2011

Toyota today announced financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2011. It was the first full quarter after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which severely affected production and sales at home and abroad. The results reflect this.
(Read More…)

By on July 29, 2011

The Japanese auto industry slowly but surely is clawing back from the abyss created by one of the worst disasters that were visited upon the island nation. Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the industry had crashed. Three months later and earlier than thought, the industry is at near pre-disaster levels. Data released by the Japan Auto Manufacturers Association shows  the June production at 742,431 units, only 13.9 percent below June 2010. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2011

Today is the day when the Japanese majors announce domestic and global data for June and the half year. A little more than three months ago, a massive earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami, paralyzed much of Japan’s infrastructure. It could not have come at a more inopportune time. The Japanese auto industry was already suffering from weak markets at home and abroad, paired with a rising yen that destroyed profits from exports.  Three months later, how big was the hit? (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2011

Why was Honda as much hit as Toyota by the March11 earthquake and tsunami? Doesn’t Honda have the bulk of its production outside of Japan? How could Nissan avoid most of the damage, even with an engine factory close to Fukushima?

It was a bit like a roulette game, and it involved a lot of chips.  According to industry talk in Japan, Nissan had taken a large supply of ECU chips before the quake. Honda and Toyota were waiting for their just-in-time delivery.  Honda and Toyota received most of their engine controller chips from one chipmaker, Renesas. Two weeks after the catastrophe, we had pointed out that Renesas and its damaged fab near the epicenter would turn into a major bottleneck. What’s more, Honda had no idea. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2011

Suzuki is not buying into the „once in a millennium tsunami.” Suzuki has a lot of its production near the waterfront in Japan’s Tokai region. Scientists give the area between Toyko and Nagoya an 87 percent chance of getting hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of about 8 within the next 30 years. Suzuki’s answer: Let’s get out of here, fast. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2011

Toyota’s Japan  production (all vehicles and brands) slumped 46.5 percent in May to 156,379 units. Overseas production did not fare much better, falling 43.3 percent to 196,073 units. All in all, Toyota’s global production plummeted 44.7 percent in May to just 352,452 units. Could it be any worse? Yes, it can:  Exports from Japan cratered 61.7 percent to  47,167 units. (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2011

The Japanese auto industry might come back to much normal faster that thought. But then there is shippiing. It takes a while to float a few thousand cars across the Pacific. Now add high gas prices and a high demand for fuel efficient cars and you have the reason why Edmunds reports that the U.S. national inventory of the Toyota Prius is down to four-day supply. Ed Larocque, Toyota’s national marketing manager for advanced technology vehicles, told Edmunds that “production in Japan likely will return to full capacity by the end of June.” Which means that that wave of Prii won’t was ashore before end of July. (Read More…)

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