Japan's Automakers Recover Faster From Tsunami

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Japan’s major automakers appear to recover faster from the impact of the March 11 tsunami than previously feared (or hoped.) Nissan’s Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri said today that Nissan’s Japanese vehicle production in May was the same or greater than its output in the same month in the previous year.

“We will also probably be able to maintain a normal level in June,” Katagiri told The Nikkei [sub]. At the annual results conference in May, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn had predicted that the company would be back to normal by October. This remains the official party line at Nissan.

Two weeks ago, Toyota confirmed to TTAC that the company will be at 90 percent capacity in June in Japan. Overseas, the situation remains unchanged. A day later, The Nikkei [sub] wrote that Honda “will likely have its domestic production nearly back to normal in July, sooner than expected, as autoparts manufacturers quickly get output back on track.”

Yesterday, The Nikkei [sub] reported that “with earthquake-related disruptions to production close to being resolved, major automakers are changing their focus from restoring output to increasing sales, taking steps to assist struggling dealerships in the disaster zone.”

We will get a better picture next week when Japanese automakers report their May production numbers, at home and overseas. Keep in mind that overseas effects are delayed, due to the length of the supply lines.#

PS: I was in Iwaki when that video was shot, and I can confirm that at least that plant ran at full tilt.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

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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  • Zackman Zackman on Jun 15, 2011

    This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It reminds me of a scene in the series "Band of Brothers" where it was remarked that no sooner than after the fighting stopped, the Germans in this particular town were already cleaning up and salvaging bricks and other materials to rebuild. Nice to have a united people - in purpose, at least. Although the human losses can't be replaced, the Japanese seemed to have pulled together and are working to return to a sense of normalcy. I wish them well.

  • GarbageMotorsCo. GarbageMotorsCo. on Jun 22, 2011

    I'd wager that their efforts were kicked into high gear with the quick growth and success of their rivals at Hyundai. H/K have some major share to gain from the Japan crisis and it appears they are gaining at a scary pace. As a Toyota owner who jumped ship from Government Motors a few years ago, I know first hand that when the competition offers just a flat out better product, it's not surprising that they jump ship. Even the most finicky, diehard Toyota owner has to have taken notice as to what H/K have been bringing out lately.