It won’t be a good year for Japanese automakers large or small. The disaster that shook the island nation two months ago all but shut the industry down for a month and makers will be operating at a fraction of normal levels for some time due to shortages of parts ranging from plastic panels to microchips.
But a massive, behind-the-scenes effort could end the crisis a bit sooner than expected – though it leaves many observers wondering just how much Japan’s home auto industry will be hollowed out in the process.
Even as manufacturing slowly creeps back to normal, industry officials are warning that they may shift more of their operations – both automotive assembly and parts production – out of quake-prone Japan.
“How much longer should we insist on producing in Japan?” asked Chief Financial Officer Satoshi Ozawa, as the maker announced a 77% plunge in its profits on Wednesday.