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Japanese Earthquake + 2008 Auto Crisis = Perfect Storm For Parts Shortages

As Japan continues to grapple with a tremendous natural disaster, the global auto industry is beginning to comprehend the impact that Japan’s crisis will have on production. Nearly every automaker on the planet – regardless of where they headquarter themselves – is beginning to learn of parts shortages caused by the quake in Japan. Some examples include:

  • Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon – Stopped production due to a (rumored) transmission shortage
  • Ford F150 – Asked dealers to stop ordering black or red trucks because they’re likely to run out of a special paint pigment sourced from Japan (full story from Detroit News)
  • Honda – Nearly Honda’s entire product line is effected in one way or another. They may be the hardest hit of all Japanese manufacturers.
  • Hybrids of all kinds – Most hybrid vehicles use batteries, transmissions, controllers, or important electronics that are built in Japan
  • Nissan – Some V6 models will be in short supply as one of Nissan’s most important engine plants has been heavily damaged
  • Subaru – The Forester and Impreza will both likely be in short supply this summer.
  • Toyota – As we detailed previously, the Prius, Scion xD, and Yaris will be the hardest hit, and most of the Lexus line will suffer as well.

According to Automotive News, there will also be a general shortage of microchips and circuit-board level components for the next few months in all industries as Japanese electronics manufacturers get back on their feet. While these shortages are likely to be temporary, it’s probable that the North American automotive market won’t grow quite as fast as it could have this year.

As most media outlets focus on Japan’s crisis and it’s impact on the global automotive supply chain, it’s important to recognize that GM and Chrysler are partially responsible for the current shortages (at least indirectly).

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