Who Will Gain From Japan's Loss?

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.”

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  • Trend-Shifter Trend-Shifter on Apr 07, 2011

    For the US domestic auto manufacturers, I just see economics 101 kicking in. No high fives. I expect them to take the incentives off the table and stay low key. The market will work in their favor without any stated strategy. They do not need any bad press. Hopefully they can reign in the dealer network to have pricing restraint and control the content of their local advertising. The worse situation for the effected Japanese automakers may be their own dealership network. If they price gouge that could push away their loyal customers and make bad press.

  • Mike978 Mike978 on Apr 08, 2011

    Bertel - simple question are you going to change or apologize for this statement which was completely unsubstantiated (and offensive, please don`t turn almost all articles into anti-Detroit articles): but parts of the “Buy American” contingent are secretly high-fifing when bad news from Japan is on TV or on the net.

    • R.Fortier1796 R.Fortier1796 on Apr 08, 2011

      If you think that this isn't happening, then your faith in the human race is far beyond any normal human being.

  • Tane94 are both eligible for federal tax credits? That's the big $7,500 question.
  • Jkross22 Toenail says what?
  • MaintenanceCosts This sounds like old-school GM drama!
  • SCE to AUX It's not really a total re-badge since some of the body parts are unique, and the interiors are quite different.As I mentioned the other day, the Tonale has a terrible name and a dim future.As for the Alfa team - guess what, this is how corporate ownership works. You are part of Stellantis partly because you're not viable as a standalone business, and then your overlords decide what's shared among the products.By the way: That Uconnect infotainment system found in Alfas was originally a Chrysler product... you're welcome.
  • 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.
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