The main Japanese car manufacturers’ production fell of more than 50% in March because of the earthquake, which touched their suppliers in the northeast of the archipelago. In March, the first world manufacturer, Toyota, produced 129 491 vehicles in Japan, 62,7 % less than last year at the same time. The production of its competitor Nissan accused at the same time a decrease of 52,4 %, in 47 590 units, and Honda assembled only 34 754 vehicles in Japan, that is to say 62,9 % of vehicles less over one year.
The Japanese car manufacturers suffer from a shortage of spare parts, which obliges them to slow down the cadence or even to stop their production line in the whole archipelago, because of the earthquake of magnitude 9 and the huge tsunami of March 11th, which damaged or destroyed the factories of their suppliers in the region of the Tohoku (northeast). The manufacturers have also to face the limitations of electricity in the northeast and in the region of Tokyo, because of the damages undergone by nuclear power plants and thermal.
Other Japanese automobiles firms were also touched. In March, Mitsubishi Motors, Suzuki, Mazda and Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) saw their production decreasing from 25 to 70%. Their production abroad evolved in a variable way, but the consequences of the disaster on the assembly of vehicles outside Japan risk to appear in April: several manufacturers decided to reduce the cadence or even to close factories in America, in Europe or in China during several days, due to the lack of spare parts from Japan.
In the archipelago, the production didn’t still regain a normal rhythm. Toyota, Honda and Nissan produced only 50 % of the volumes planned before the earthquake at the end of April.
The return to a normal rhythm of production will require weeks, because the workshops of Tohoku were completely destroyed by the disaster. Moreover changing suppliers is difficult, for a manufacturer, considering the complexity that represent the conception, the test and the production of every component.