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As Japan reels, immediate supply of exports not a threat: analyst

March 17, 2011
Amid an unfolding disaster, a return to normalcy appears to be a long-term goal for Japan, following one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded and an ensuing tsunami March 11, then ongoing efforts to prevent a full meltdown at a nuclear plant and radiation panic.
Electricity conservation efforts and rolling blackout measures have forced the nation’s auto industry to reduce or halt production, leading to worries in the United States of supply shortages just as sales here heat up.
CNW Research reports that while U.S. shoppers considering Japanese brands could be willing to put off their purchases for a short time, there likely would be a dramatic downward impact on loyalty following a 90-day delay.
“Because Toyota, Nissan and Honda work on a tight supply chain, disruptions—and there obviously are many—are felt quickly. Certainly within 45 days,” said CNW President Art Spinella.
But Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with, said the U.S. market appears sufficiently stocked to weather a temporary disruption of most imported vehicles. “The majority (67 percent) of Japanese brand cars sold in the U.S. are also produced here in North America,” she said.
“An estimated 79 percent of Hondas sold in the U.S. are produced in American plants; for Toyota, it’s 72 percent; Nissan, 65 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, only 8 percent of Suzukis sold in the U.S. are produced in America, as are 16 percent of Mazdas,” Krebs said.
Japanese automakers have poured out their support—both financially and with words of encouragement, condolence and solidarity—and provided updates on the safety of their employees.
Days after the disaster, Toyota pledged to donate $3.75 million in aid relief and recovery. Among other initial responses, Nissan and Mazda both said they would donate 30 million yen ($371,149). Honda in Japan has given relief and recovery efforts totaling 300 million yen as well as 1,000 generators and other supplies.
“Taking into account the severity of the situation, Nissan will make its utmost efforts to provide support to restoration services,” the company said in a statement. “Fully cooperating with the government’s request to place national priority on securing electricity for areas in need, Nissan and its group companies will proactively take measures to conserve electricity usage in all of its activities.”
Among stateside auto industry efforts, JPMorgan Chase, which operates vehicle financer Chase Auto Finance, pledged $5 million to the relief and recovery efforts. The bank also was urging its employees to donate to the American Red Cross and World Vision and said it would match whatever its employees give.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan at this time,” said JPMorgan Chase chief executive and chairman Jamie Dimon. “This donation is to help both with immediate needs as well as the ongoing relief and recovery efforts in the months ahead.”
Meanwhile, the General Motors Foundation initially gave $250,000 to the Red Cross as a supporting member of the Disaster Responder program. It has since topped that with an approval for another $500,000 donation from the GM Foundation to the Red Cross’s relief fund for Japan.
“Humanitarian relief is an important part of the Foundation’s work, and we’re answering the call for help in the wake of such terrible devastation,” said John Montford, who is chairman of the GM Foundation and senior advisor for government relations and global public policy.
“There is remarkable compassion among GM employees,” Montford said, “and I know that same spirit will make a difference in helping the Japan relief effort.”