First Facts Emerge In Japanese Parts Paralysis
So far, it had been clear that the March 11 earthquake and tsunami would create big problems for the auto industry in Japan in particular and worldwide in general. When asked when, where, and how much, all we received were shrugging shoulders when taking to a westernized counterpart, or an “eeeh” or the customary sucking of air through the teeth when talking to an old school Japanese. Now finally, the first facts emerge.
The Nikkei [sub] confirms our estimate and that of IHS Automotive of this morning and figures that “Japan’s major automakers will produce about 400,000 fewer vehicles domestically” this month alone. (Expect this number to rise, just like all the other numbers.)
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association says that a large number of parts are in short supply. According to the group, the supply of basic items such as engine control units, brake parts and even steel sheet is most severely affected.
Renesas Electronics, the world’s largest producer of automotive semiconductors, plans to restart its main plant in Ibaraki Prefecture in July. The company will try to fabricate chips at its acilities in western Japan and by outsourcing from overseas.
Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. resumed production of suspension systems at its Fukushima plant on Friday. Keihin Corp. has begun making engine control units and other components on a trial basis at an affected factory in Miyagi Prefecture.
Most automakers still do not have a clear picture. The Nikkei says that Toyota “intends to gather information from affiliated parts suppliers and others to gain a complete understanding of the extent of the damage by month’s end.”
Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.
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