Crisis in Japan

Japan and Automotive Industry Forever Changed?

The events of the March 11 quake and resulting tsunami in Japan have been the hot topic for the automotive industry and the world. Aftermath repercussions from the devastation are still being discovered and long-term effects are difficult to predict.

National Geographic reported:

“The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan [March 11] was powerful enough to shorten Earth’s day by 1.8 microseconds and throw an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) into the planet’s wobble, scientists say.”


Japan itself was permanently moved 8 feet by the events. There are some benefits to the data that was recorded, however. A better standard for predicting future quakes is possible if precursors to the March 11 quake can be identified.

Damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant raises additional concerns that have yet to be officially or completely kept under control.

While the cumulative consequences of the quake and tsunami have affected all of Japan, those in the automotive industry turn their attention to the damage and ramifications the disaster will have on production and shipments. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all put many of their plants on hold.

Soon after the quake, Automotive News reported that:

“The shutdown could affect exports to the United States of such cars as the Toyota Yaris sedan, Scion XB and Scion XD, as well as the Honda Fit subcompact, Accord sedan and CR-V crossover. The temblor also affected production of the Acura and Infiniti lineups.”


Auto Observer also looked into the extended impact of the disaster on the automotive sector. A shipment of 600 Nissan LEAF models managed to get out before the quake, but production may still be affected if plants remain on stand-by.

“If the bulk of Japan’s auto production resumes as assumed sometime [soon], the U.S. market appears sufficiently stocked to weather a temporary disruption of imported models, according to data from”


Toyota has said it will resume production March 22, as has Mazda, but Honda has already extended its reopening date, leading to a great loss of active units since the disaster.

An overabundance of inventory is usually more of a concern for dealers than running low, but with the future still uncertain for Japan, concern for damage to the US market may still be warranted. Some sources wonder if “The Big One” to hit Tokyo is yet to come, but predicting quakes is not an easy science.

A poll at asked, “Will American auto shoppers show more consideration for Japanese auto brands in the wake of the nation’s devastating natural disasters?”

Current results show that most voters doubt there will be any change at all.


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