JAPAN – A week after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, automakers with plants in that country have announced dates when they plan to resume production in some cases, provided updates on parts availability in the U.S. and Japan, and an update on dealer stock in the U.S.

According to IHS Global Insight the U.S. imported $46 billion worth of motor vehicles and parts in 2010, $32 billion in passenger cars and $14 billion in parts. In addition, Mario Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce, stated that Japanese exports "will weaken in the months ahead as the closing of several manufacturing plants prompted by electricity shortages, combines with severely damaged roads and bridges to hamper production."

Toyota Motor Co. stated that so far the impact on the automaker’s North American operations has been limited, but the company decided to keep its Japan-based plants shut down through March 22. All 13 of its vehicle and engine plants in North America are running though the company said it curtailed overtime to ensure the plants have adequate parts inventories coming from Japan. The company said it will resume production of replacement parts for vehicles on the market on March 17 and will restart production of parts for overseas production on March 21.

The automaker stated its U.S. dealership inventories have adequate supply, and that 12 of its models, such as the Camry, Corolla, RAV4, and Lexus RX 350 are made in North America. The company reported its Prius vehicles will be impacted by the production shutdowns in Japan as the vehicle is manufactured there. Toyota added that two out of its three hybrid battery production plants in Japan were unaffected. One sustained “limited damage” from the earthquake.

With regard to additional relief efforts, the company said Toyota Affiliates in the U.S. will match their personal relief donations to the American Red Cross.

At Mazda, the company said it plans to resume temporary production at its Hiroshima and Hofu plants on March 22, to resume production of replacement parts, parts for overseas production, and vehicles that use “in-process” inventories. The company has not yet announced when it will resume regular full production of parts and vehicles.

Nissan stated that its Nissan Americans manufacturing operation will follow a normal production schedule for at least the next seven days, and that it will provide another supply chain update on Friday, March 25.

The automaker said its Nissan Division rearward days’ supply stands at 47, its Infiniti Division rearward days’ supply is at 49; the company said its numbers do not include vehicles in transit from Japan, and that its U.S. operations don’t anticipate any short-term impact on sales or vehicle availability. The company stated earlier this week that approximately 1,300 Infiniti vehicles were damaged in port in Japan but that this number of vehicles equates to less than a few days’ supply. Nissan said historically its Infiniti brand keeps approximately 20,000 unit inventory in the U.S. and will make up this loss during the next several months.

Nissan stated that its Nissan Americas operations “has visibility” of more than 1,500 Nissan LEAF vehicles either in transit from Japan or at port in the U.S., which includes the shipment of more than 600 Nissan LEAFs that left port in Japan before the earthquake.

Nissan Americas pledged $1 million (80 million yen) to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts in Japan. Its global contributions will reach more than $3.75 million (400,000,000 million yen) in cash and in-kind contributions to support relief efforts. This includes global and regional corporate donations, employee gift matching, and 50 vehicles to support aid agencies in the affected areas of Japan.

At Honda, the company stated that it suspended operations at a number of plants in Japan. The company suspended operations at five plants on March 14 and two more plants on March 15. Honda said it plans to keep those plants closed through March 20. The automaker also suspended all regular operations at its facilities in the area of Japan affected by the quake from March 14-20. The company said it made contact with all its Tier 1 suppliers in Japan and is receiving information from them about their operational status.

The company reiterated that there is no immediate impact on Honda's operations in North America. More than 80 percent of Honda and Acura products sold in the U.S. are produced in North America, and it sources the parts it uses for production locally.

General Motors announced it has been affected by parts production disruptions in Japan. The automaker stated it suspended production at its Shreveport Assembly plant in Louisiana for the week of March 21. The company said it plans to resume production there as soon as it can, but that it has a sufficient number of vehicles to meet customer demand. All of its other North American plants are operating normally.

At Mitsubishi, the company suspended operations at all three of its plants on March 14-15 but resumed production in all its locations on March 16-17 of this week and is evaluating operations for March 18 and into next week.

Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru, stated it will keep its operations in Japan closed until March 20 until it has assessed parts availability from its suppliers. The company said no completed vehicles were damaged and that only two body shells suffered damage. It stated its shipping operations at the Tokyo port are operational. In the U.S., the company cut overtime at its Subaru Indiana Automotive facility to ensure an adequate supply of parts though the plant has continued regular production. With regard to relief funds, the company said it has donated an additional $500,000 (50 million yen) worth of generators, lighting units, and construction pumps. Its employees contributed $100,000 in relief funds. Subaru of America stated it will provide matching funds for dealer and business affiliate donations up to $100,000 and double matching of employee contributions through its Subaru of America Foundation.

By Greg Basich and Lauren Fletcher

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