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Posts Tagged ‘japan auto shortages’

Nissan Now Betting U.S. Leaf Production Will Launch on Schedule

Maker still faces challenges from March disaster in Japan.

by on Jul.12, 2011

Nissan's big plant in Smyrna, TN is undergoing extensive rennovations to permit it to produce the new Leaf there, likely starting in late 2012.

U.S. production of the Nissan Leaf is now likely to begin on time, in late 2012, a senior official told, in spite of earlier fears the project would be delayed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.

The upbeat pronouncement came just a few weeks after another Nissan official warned that the project could very well be delayed by the disaster.  There are still some challenges to overcome, however, cautioned Bill Krueger, Nissan’s director of procurement and supply chain management, notably including delays in the rigorous training program for the American workers who are expected to produce the complex battery-electric vehicle at the maker’s assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

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“We’re still targeting to launch Nissan Leaf production and the production of the batteries that will power them at Smyrna late next year,” said Krueger.

Nissan launched production of the Leaf in Japan, late in 2010, and initially maintained an extremely slow pace on the assembly line to help ensure quality.  Even then, the maker discovered an unexpected problem with a small number of early battery cars that required modest tweaks to its controller software.


Toyota U.S. Plants Due Back to Normal By September

Factories rebound ahead of expectations.

by on Jun.16, 2011

Toyota now expects to have production of all 12 models built in North America back up to normal by September.

Working with suppliers – and finding alternative sources, where necessary – Toyota today said it expects to have its North American vehicle production back to normal by September, notably earlier than it originally feared following the disastrous Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

The entire Japanese auto industry has been feeling the pinch of parts shortages resulting from the March disaster, which struck Japan’s northeast coast, killing tens of thousands and damaging or destroying 100s of automotive parts facilities.

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Like most of the Japanese competitors, Toyota’s home market plants were shuttered for the better part of a month and its entire global factory network has been operating well below capacity since then.  Toyota was particularly vulnerable, however, because it produces significantly more vehicles in Japan than key rivals Nissan and Honda.


Hyundai Making Long-Term Gains as Japanese Struggle

But it’s unclear if Koreans are picking up much short-term business during Japanese shortages.

by on Jun.16, 2011

Hyundai products, like the new Elantra, appear well-positioned to pick up sales from struggling Japanese brands.

The shortage of key Japanese products, such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic, appears to be having a big impact on the established automotive order.

After years as an also-ran in the compact market, for example, Chevrolet’s new Cruze has been outselling traditional segment leaders Civic and Toyota Corolla.  Meanwhile, Hyundai can barely keep up with demand for its own new compact, the Elantra, which has seen sales more than double over the last year.

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While company officials seem loathe to be seen as taking advantage of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, crippling that nation’s auto industry, analysts believe that the Korean maker is particularly well-positioned to benefit from the disaster.

“The Koreans are clearly in the best position” to benefit , suggested analyst David Sullivan, of the research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.


Ford Raises Prices – Again

Consumers getting socked this spring.

by on May.31, 2011

Ford has now raised prices on products like the new Explorer three times since January.

It’s a tough spring for U.S. car buyers.  Not only are many popular models in short supply but prices are heading up – fast.

The latest maker to bump up sticker prices is Ford, which says it will tack another $124, or 0.4%, onto the sticker of its average model.  That might not cause much pain were it not for the fact that it’s the third time since January Ford has raised prices, its average vehicle now costing $375, or 1.3%, more than at the end of 2010.

Ford officials point the finger at steel, rubber and other commodities, where costs have risen sharply in recent months.

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Most major makers have been raising prices this year, in part due to commodity price hikes but also because the industry is finally trying to regain some pricing momentum after several years of painful restraint.  Manufacturers were loath to risk angering consumers during one of the worst sales downturns since the Great Depression.

“This time, the price hikes are likely to stick,” said Rod Lache, analyst with Deutsche Bank.