Japanese auto shortages are expected

By The Associated Press

DETROIT – Cars made by Japanese manufacturers will be in short supply in 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 said in an interview that customers will first see shortages of vehicles made exclusively in Japan. Then parts shortages will slow down production of Japanese-brand cars assembled in North America.
Jackson said automakers have told him that the car shortages will last anywhere from two to four months, and AutoNation should expect a 30-to-50 percent cut in shipments of Japanese-brand models. Consumers can expect to pay higher prices for the models in short supply because dealers will be less likely to discount them.
Industry analysts say Detroit automakers, which also get parts from Japanese suppliers, will start to see production cuts as well because of the earthquake.
“To think that the Detroit Three will escape this would be in error,” said Michael Robinet, director of global production forecasting at IHS Automotive. Jackson said shortages of models made by U.S.-based automakers will likely be limited to fewer models, some features or paint colors.
Parts shortages from Japan already are affecting auto production in the U.S. On Monday, Toyota said that parts shortages will force it to shut down all 13 of its North American factories, perhaps later this month. The company did not know if the shutdowns will happen at the same time, and it said just how long the shutdowns last depend on when parts start flowing again.

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