Australian auto industry to benefit from Japan’s 2011 earthquake

Most Japanese automotive plants will remain closed while repairs and checks are conducted in earthquake-torn areas, raising doubts about the reliability of Japanese-made vehicles being imported to Australia over the coming months. 

Friday’s earthquake and respective tsunami had devastating affects on Japan’s manufacturing industry, with three car-makers, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, all halting production temporarily in the wake of the crisis.

Honda’s R&D facility and one manufacturing plant at Sayama were physically damaged by the quake, with one man dying and 30 others injured.

Honda’s Sayama facility – which makes various Honda and Acura cars for export – will remain closed for an undisclosed period of time.

Toyota and Nissan have also closed their doors temporarily while they assess the situation at their plants. Both companies have said they will reopen their plants as early as Monday.

Even so, all three automakers’ stocks are down as a result of the closures.

It is unclear at this stage how many cars are exported from the damaged areas to Australia, and how many shipments will be delayed or cancelled. For the time being though, the affected Japanese automakers are halting production, meaning Australian automakers could experience increased sales locally.

Local car manufacturers with the capacity to hike production could benefit from the quakes, by increasing their stock levels while Japanese imports dwindle. 

Though serious car-buyers are not likely to change their purchase because of a lengthened waiting period, more casual consumers might make the switch if a local car is on display, at front-of-mind in the car-yard.

Japanese car prices will rise in the near future, while manufacturers pass the costs incurred by closing production onto the consumer. For Honda, this will include costs related to re-building their R&D facility and their Sayama plant. 

Figures stating how many cars have been damaged in transit and while waiting at shipyards has not been released, however it is likely some manufacturers lost various shiploads of stock.

Now is the time for Australian automakers to put themselves in the limelight, and drive local sales. Japanese automakers will have difficulty selling cars on their own turf for the foreseeable future, with Japanese consumers set to decrease their demand for expensive items, including cars. 

Therefore, Japanese automotive manufacturers will be relying on imports, so Australian companies should get a foot-hold in the import market while Japanese players are absent. 

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