Japanese Automakers Report Half-Million Vehicle Production Loss to Earthquake

It's been a little more than a month since Japan was rocked by a violent earthquake and a devastating tsunami, but the impact on the nation's automotive industry are only now starting to be tallied up. According to new reports, Japanese automakers have produced 500,000 fewer vehicles than expected, and that figure will continue to grow as both car companies and their suppliers struggle to regain their footing.

With some 18 plants affected in the natural disaster, Toyota predictably lost the most volume. Thus far, its production volume is down by 260,000 units, although that figure could potentially balloon to a whopping 500,000 units. Since the event, Toyota has re-opened two plants that produce its popular hybrids, albeit both are running at 50-percent of their typical capacity. The company's remaining 16 facilities are scheduled to reopen at 50-percent capacity later this month, but will only resume production for 9 days.

Honda's production losses ring in at roughly 58,000 units to date, although that figure will grow as plants remain off line. Honda's Sayama plant (which builds the CR-Z, Fit, Acura RL, and TSX) and Suzuka plant (which builds the CR-Z, Fit, and Insight) resumed production yesterday, but both facilities are running at half capacity while the automaker continues to face parts shortages.

Nissan has reopened its five plants in Japan, and has been operating them provided they continue to have a sufficient supply of components. Automotive News says the automaker has lost about 55,000 vehicles due to the earthquake, but notes that figure doesn't include "volume lost due to working at half pace."

Japan's smaller automakers also lost a significant chunk of their typical volume. Suzuki says it lost nearly 59,000 units, while Mazda says its production totals are nearly 46,000 vehicles lower than normal. Production at Subaru and Mitsubishi are 29,000 and 26,000 units lower than anticipated, respectively.

These figures are staggering, but only a fraction of the entire picture. These figures don't include any lost volume at plants outside of Japan, which may be forced to halt production if parts and components cannot be produced and exported. Further, we've yet to see the auto industry fully recover from the quake, meaning additional losses are likely in the weeks ahead. We wouldn't be surprised if the final production loss figures tally in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 vehicles.

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