Cars made by Japanese manufacturers will be in short supply at showrooms this spring and summer because of last month's earthquake and tsunami, the head of the largest U.S. dealership chain said Monday.
AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson expects disruptions at factories to limit the availability of vehicles from Japanese automakers. He based his prediction on information from the automakers, he said.
The company has 243 new vehicle dealership franchises in 15 states. More than half of its new vehicle sales last year came from cars and trucks made by Japanese manufacturers. About two thirds of those vehicles were assembled in North America
A March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged auto parts plants in Northeastern Japan, causing shortages that idled most car production in that nation. Japan's daily auto production has fallen by about 37,000 vehicles, says Scotiabank Senior Economist Carlos Gomes.
Shortages of parts from Japan are also affecting manufacturers outside the country. Just last week, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. said that several North American plants would be closed part of this month, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said his company will see disruptions.
Jackson said it was difficult to predict the effect of the shortages on AutoNation.
Nissan Americas is closing five North American plants for several days this month because of parts supply disruptions. It plans to make up for the lost production later.
In Japan, Toyota Motor Corp said last week that nine of its 15 plants in Japan have resumed production of vehicles or parts. The rest remained closed indefinitely.
Honda Motor Co. plans to restart its Sayama Plant and Suzuka Factory on April 11. When those two plants come back on line, all of Honda's auto assembly plants will be back in operation, but they'll be running at about half the normal rate because of parts shortages.
Jackson expects the U.S. auto market to keep recovering through the end of this year. He said AutoNation will manage through any shortfalls.
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