Japan's Auto Production Hit By Parts Paralysis

japan s auto production hit by parts paralysis

After a long weekend (Monday was Spring Equinox), Japan came back to work today. Most of the Japanese auto industry did not.

Japan’s largest automaker Toyota, and Japan’s third largest, Honda, won’t be making any cars this week. Japan’s auto production is paralyzed.

Toyota sent a terse message:

“TMC has decided that the halt of vehicle production at TMC plants and subsidiary vehicle manufacturers will continue until (and include) March 26 (a scheduled Saturday production day). Meanwhile, TMC resumed production of replacement parts on March 17 and resumed the production of parts for overseas production (including knockdown parts) on March 21.”

Hard hit Honda sent out an even more ominous message:

“In light of the current status of supplies and parts from suppliers, Honda decided to extend the suspension of production at our Saitama, Suzuka and Kumamoto factories through March 27. With regard to the situation from March 28 on, we will determine the situation, dependent on the recovery of the society and the supply of parts.”

Japan’s second largest automaker, Nissan, had nothing to announce. They already had said that they would open some plants to make some much needed-parts (there are a lot of cars to be fixed in Japan). On Thursday, Nissan will start assembling vehicles at five factories and will make some cars until the parts run out.

These three cover the bulk of the Japanese car production.

“Other carmakers resumed temporary production — as long as part supplies last,” reports Automotive News.

Mitsubishi is making cars today from parts that had already been made before the disaster, but were stuck due to bad roads. Five or six suppliers of Mitsubishi are out of commission. “As a result, Mitsubishi is suspending production indefinitely from Wednesday,” Automotive News says.

Mazda is up, but probably not for long. There is production of replacement parts and parts for overseas factories. Whatever cars can be built with parts already in stock will be built. Then, the line stops.

Suzuki is trying to finish vehicles already in-process with existing parts and components. It looks like they might run out of those on Thursday.

Subaru has suspended vehicle assembly until at least Thursday.

The message is clear: The Japanese auto industry is cut off from its lifeline, its parts suppliers. Whatever parts can be made in-house are being made. Whatever cars can be produced with existing inventory, are being produced (with the exception of Toyota and Honda). That’s it.

Reuters already coined the term “Japan parts paralysis,” affecting everybody from miners in Brazil to buyers of iPads in Cleveland.

And don’t think it will all be over next week. As the Mainichi Shimbun writes today,

“Suspension of vehicle output is highly likely to last for a long time as the two major Japanese automakers currently have no prospects of resuming production.”

The smaller automakers share the same suppliers and the same bleak prospects.

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  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.
  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.