Carmakers brace for parts shortages after Japanese quake

Ford is the latest car giant to cut production as the industrial fallout from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami ripples through the global automotive industry.

The US company said at the weekend that it will idle its factory in Genk, Belgium, for five days in early April, to conserve supplies of parts shipped from Japan.

The group stressed that the move is a defensive strategy, rather than a response to a direct shortage. "Given the situation in Japan, we took this as a precautionary measure," a Ford spokesman said.

But Ford is just the latest addition to a growing list of global car companies trimming their activities in response to the Japanese disaster.

Within Japan, major automakers are discussing plans to take turns to run their assembly lines, as the country suffers shortages from power plants crippled by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated swathes of the coast, killing nearly 10,000 people and leaving another 16,500 missing.

The production rotation scheme – which aims to avoid scheduled blackouts – is one of several measures being mooted as manufacturers face a drop in power supply of up to 15 per cent.

Japanese carmakers have already significantly cut production following the disaster. Although Toyota plans to resume work imminently at three factories further from the disaster zone, shutdowns at the other nine of its plants continue, leaving the world's biggest carmaker short by around 140,000 vehicles so far. Rival Honda – which has lost output of an estimated 47,000 cars and 5,000 motorcycles – has also extended the shutdown at its Saitama and Suzuka car plants, although it is due to restart motorcycle production at its Kumamoto factory today.

Japanese manufacturers are also increasingly instituting slowdowns in their US factories because of concerns over the availability of parts shipped in from Japan. Toyota last week warned it will halt production at some US factories, having already suspended overtime and Saturday shifts at 13 North American plants. Honda has also advised of disruptions at five US facilities, and Mazda has stopped taking US orders for models made in Japan.

But it is not just Japanese suppliers that are affected. And although the majority of parts are still available so far, shortages are beginning to be felt.

A key issue for the industry is in the pigment used to give cars their shine. "Xirallic" is made at a single factory, owned by the German giant Merck, which is in a coastal town hit by the tsunami and just 28km from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Ford last week told US dealers to stop taking orders for vehicles in "tuxedo black", as well as limiting output of three shades of red because of concerns about the availability of the necessary pigments.

Another problem for global carmakers is the supply of airflow sensors produced by Hitachi at a factory north of Tokyo that was damaged by the earthquake and so far remains closed. GM and Peugeot Citroen have both slowed production at European factories because of concerns about a shortage of the sensors, although GM is set to resume normal working rates at its Louisiana truck plant today after a shutdown last week.

A dearth of parts from Japan could cut global car production by as much as 30 per cent, analysts estimate. With as many as 500 component makers affected by the disaster, prodution could drop by 100,000 vehicles per day if supply is not resumed within six weeks, according to some industry experts.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
tv

Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries

Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
techPerils of 'text neck' revealed
News
i100
News
Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt
peopleStonewall boss says many fear it could ruin their careers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Director, Private Bank - San Francisco, CA

$175 - $200 per annum, Benefits: full benefits: Carlton Senior Appointments: P...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Diego, CA – Tier 1 House - Senior MD FA

Not specified: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior MD Financial Advisor - San ...

Day In a Page

Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection