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Car Makers Struggle with Supply Chains One Month After Japan Quake

Honda is only the latest of several automobile manufacturers to report production slowdowns in the wake of last month’s Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis – triple catastrophes that have crippled global car production supply chains and reduced overall capacity by as much as 30 per cent, according to the British newspaper The Independent.

Starting April 11, parts shortages will force Honda’s plant in Swindon, United Kingdom, to begin operating at 50 percent capacity, possibly through the end of May. In Japan, Honda’s car factories are also at 50 per cent capacity. Other Honda facilities in the United States, however, are expected to return to normal output by the end of next week.

David Raistrick, the head of manufacturing at Deloitte, told The Independent that the automotive industry may have to re-evaluate its use of Lean manufacturing, “because this is the result of having just enough parts held in stock, a limited number of suppliers and absolutely no excess capacity.”

At Toyota, the world’s largest car maker, production in Japan has been halted since the crisis began on March 11, although it announced it plans to resume production at one of its factories next week, according to The Independent. Chrysler has cut overtime in Canada and Mexico, and Ford has idled its factory in Belgium for five days. GM and Peugeot Citroen have also slowed production in Europe last month due to a shortage of airflow sensors produced by a Hitachi factory in Japan.

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