The full impact on vehicle exports of Japan’s devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami off its north-east coast near Sendai was still being assessed at the time of going to print, but already signs point to significant damage to certain ports and production stoppages of at least three days to a week for almost all manufacturers, including Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Fuji Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi and Mazda.
Toyota applied a minimum three-day shutdown across all TMC plants, with virtually every vehicle it exports affected. Nissan reported damage to six of its facilities; the tsuanmi also washed away at least 1,300 US-bound vehicles at the port of Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture (pictured) and 1,000 vehicles stored near Tagajo City.
Honda expected to lose more than 16,500 units of production up to March 20th with 2,500 bound for the US. Mazda along with Fuji Heavy Industries (owner of Subaru), has also seen production stopped.
NYK Line said that Sendai and Hachinohe ports were severely damaged by the tsumani and remained out of operation. In the week following the disaster, the company suspended acceptance of bookings for those ports as well as at Hitachinaka, Ofunato and Onahama ports.
“The current situation may warrant a temporary change of rotation or omission of ports which will be considered on a vessel-by-vessel basis,” said the company in a statement.
The damage to vehicle exports, while minor in comparison to the scale of the disaster, puts further pressure onto Japanese carmakers, whose exports had already been hurt by a strong yen. However, with the high price of oil, the demand for Japan’s fuel efficient and electric/ hybrid vehicles was forecasted to rise, and production losses are expected to cause shortages of the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf.