Quake causes US auto plants to slow

Quake causes US auto plants to slow
The powerful earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami caused plant shutdowns and disrupted ports from which cars are shipped to the U.S. While damage was mostly minor at inland auto factories, companies are still assessing damage to the ports.

Toyota says its main plants that shut down are running again and Honda says some of its plants will remain closed through Monday. The overall effect on production is expected to be small, but it is unclear how soon regular car shipments will resume. The result could be barely-noticeable ripples in the supply of certain models in the U.S. this spring. But if ports in Japan are unable to restore their full capacity quickly, some models could start getting rare here in a month or two.

It takes weeks for cars to make the trip from Japan to U.S. dealerships. Huge specialized car-carrying ships deliver them to west-coast ports or travel east through the Panama Canal. So the effects of the quake on the supply of cars won’t be felt here for awhile. Car makers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan also build several models in the U.S, so the degree of disruption from the quake will vary from one model to the next.

As gasoline prices continue to rise in the U.S., analysts have predicted increased interest in small economy cars. Some of those models, like the Toyota Yaris and Scion vehicles, and Honda’s Fit and Insight, could be in short supply — and more expensive — just as the weather gets warm and the spring and summer driving season ramps up.

Source: Blogs