Order now and wait
Australians are yet to feel the full impact of Japan’s tsunami
NEW-CAR buyers face waiting lists and shortages of popular models as Japan’s motor industry recovers slowly from the impact of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country on March 11.
Toyota expects to take until November to get all its factories back to full speed and other brands will wait until July before making any firm predictions.
In Australia, shipments from Japan are shrinking rapidly and some brands are moving to unofficial rationing’’ to prevent a run on showrooms.The aim is stop a major drought.
We’re not panicking yet. But there is no doubt there will be some supply issues across a number of Japanese brands,’’ says Toyota Australia sales and marketing chief Dave Buttner. We’re still receiving shipments but at reduced volumes. There will be some lift in July and a return to normal levels later in the year . . . like the waiting time for a leather armchair.’’
In Japan, most brands are only operating at 50 per cent of full capacity but almost all factories have resumed operations after being shut down for a month. But parts shortages— particular the vital microchips used for onboard computers and airbags— continue to cause indefinite delays in production schedules and new-car deliveries worldwide.
Toyota believes the extent of the problem can only be assessed when all 17 of its plants are operational and sourcing parts from all suppliers at all levels. Only then can we see the missing links in the supply chain,’’ says a Toyota spokesman.
The knock-on effect of the shortages is being felt as far from Japan as Europe and the US. In Australia, production of the Toyota Camry is still not back to predisaster levels. Says Buttner: This is like the GFC. We’re handling it very similarly. We’re managing it every day.’’
Japan’s Big 3— Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi— will review parts supply and production in late July, when they hope to increase capacity.
However, the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which supplied more than 20 per cent of Tokyo’s electricity, seems destined to throw a massive spanner into the works. The Japanese government has asked all major businesses, especially car companies, to reduce electricity use by 25 per cent. One Honda executive says this is pretty much impossible’’.
Things can only get worse when Japan’s summer hits and people resort to their home and office airconditioners. Japanese car buyers are already switching to imports, with sales of Korean and Americanmade cars already rising noticeably.
Nightmare: Aerial view of vehicles ready for shipping being carried by a wall of water at Hitachinaka city in Ibaraki prefecture