Until the events of the early hours of today, it looked like Friday would be pretty quiet, news-wise. The huge earthquake in Japan, either the biggest or the second biggest to hit the country, according to whose report you read, has certainly been keeping the 24-hour news channels and wire services busy. And, to a certain extent, us.
At 16:00GMT, it appears that disruption to the auto industry is going to be pretty minimal. Toyota’s new Ohira plant, just north of the earthquake’s Sendai centre, is, local reports said, in the hills and unlikely to have been hit by that horrendous tsunami you’ve probably seen gobbling up ships, cars, buildings and, no doubt, people. Nissan just told us its plants appear OK but will stay shut till Sunday, all employees OK. Toyota’s Tokyo office was shaken up, along with its staff, as was the JAMA HQ, but it looks like mostly minor damage and employees stranded in town for the night after train services were stopped. Though the UK ambassador to Japan just told Sky News that road gridlock is easing and subways should soon start running again.
Many Japanese cars sold outside the country are also made outside; Nissan USA, for example, expects no effects. Inside Japan, car plants, and parts plants are widely dispersed, apparently still all intact, and there’s plenty of spare capacity to replace the thousands of vehicles the ‘quake and subsequent tsunami just trashed.
Still, already, hundreds are dead, including a staffer at Honda’s R&D centre in Tochigi after a canteen wall collapsed) while an entire ship (with 100 aboard) and a train are posted ‘missing’. As in Christhurch last month, earthquake injuries will vary from minor to horrific. Many lives will be severely disrupted, property and treasured possessions pulverised. The weekend’s news from Japan will be grim.
Yours truly cast the promised eye over Toyota Europe’s new old far…, er, retireemobile, Ford and Ferrari stopped bickering, and our fluent-in-French Simon Warburton attempted to keep up with the Renault ‘spy scandal’.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com