Japan auto output, exports plunge post-quake

Posted at 05/31/2011 2:58 PM

TOKYO - Japan's auto production and exports suffered record drops of more than 60% in April following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster, an industry group said Tuesday.

Total domestic production of cars, trucks and buses plunged 60.1% year-on-year in April, as the massive calamity led to plant closures and cut supply chains, said the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Japan's exports of vehicles dropped 67.8% from a year earlier, the industry group said. Both the output and export drops were the biggest on record, a spokeswoman for the association told AFP.

Vehicle production fell to 292,001 units in April from 731,829 in the same month a year earlier, while exports came to 126,061 vehicles, down from 391,540 in April 2010, the industry group said.

Many component manufacturers that are key to auto production are based in the worst-hit regions of Japan, their facilities damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake or swamped by the giant wave that followed.

The quake and tsunami also crippled power generation facilities, including a nuclear power plant at the center of an ongoing atomic emergency.

While most auto plants resumed production by mid-April, operations remain well below capacity and analysts warn that parts shortages could go on for months, with the threat of summer power shortages also casting a shadow.

Amid the power and parts shortages, market leader Toyota announced production disruptions domestically and in the United States, Europe, China and Australia, temporarily slowing output or shutting plants.