Japan car output halves in April


Production at Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co is likely to recover more quickly than initially feared after Japan’s massive earthquake wreaked havoc with their supply chains and halved output in April. Japanese automakers have been plagued by shortages of hundreds of components after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami damaged factories in Japan’s northeast, and have said they expect to lose significant share in some markets as a result.
But their public predictions of a recovery to pre-quake production levels late this year are increasingly seen as conservative. “April is likely to be the bottom and we might see back-to-normal production levels in July or August,” said Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Kazaka Securities. “Some parts suppliers say they are resuming full production in June in time for automakers’ summer operations. And the widely anticipated disruption in power supply during summer is not likely to have a big impact on production,” he said.
Toyota, which is this year set to lose its crown as the world’s biggest automaker, said its global output tumbled 47.8 percent in April versus a year ago to 308,555 vehicles. Honda said its production fell by 52.9 percent, while Nissan Motor Co logged a 22.4 percent decline. The Nikkei business daily said on Friday that domestic output for Nissan is expected to return to normal levels in June while Toyota’s is likely to rise to 90 percent of normal levels.
Officials at Toyota and Nissan said the report was not based on company announcements and their plans have not changed. Toyota has said it expects its production at home and overseas to be around 70 percent of normal levels in June while Nissan has said it expects a recovery to full-capacity production globally in October.