Automakers feel pinch of Japan quake

With most of Japan’s auto industry shutting down after a powerful earthquake and tsunami devastated the country early this month, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mazda and other car makers have started resuming some production, although industry still faces rolling blackouts and infrastructure problems.

Supply levels probably won’t return to normal until mid to late summer, said Micahel Robinet, director of global production forecasting for IHS Automotive. “They certainly wouldn’t start up if they didn’t have all the components. But how long they can stay producing is anybody’s guess.”

Factories lose an “incredible amount of efficiency” with power outages because machines and plants can be difficult to restart, Robinet explains.

He noted that road problems can make it harder to get suppliers and workers to factories, and troubles with a water supply can also affect operations.

(Adapted from Associated Press, as published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, page B2-1, March 23, 2011)