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Japan Quake Anxieties Hang Over New York Auto Show

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fuel efficiency is the buzz phrase at the 2011 New York International Auto Show — but the specter of production slowdowns and supply chain disruptions looms large for Japan-based manufacturers struggle in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami last month.

Jack Hollis, a vice president at Scion, said the Toyota subsidiary has postponed two new products scheduled to launch July 1.

"With all of that upheaval, everything has to wait until you can make sure that all the suppliers are fully working at full speed, and trying to make a commitment, I think, is a little bit premature," Hollis said.

Meanwhile, Honda factories are currently producing at about 50 percent capacity, according to spokesman Chris Martin.

"We are optimistic for the future, but the parts situation will continue to be a challenge probably for the rest of this year," he said.

Industry analyst Jesse Toprak with True Car said the average car has 30,000 parts, and only one has to be missing for production to grind to a halt.

"And a lot of the microchips are made in Japan, and there's at least one part for almost every car that's made in the U.S. that relies on a part that comes from Japan," he said.

Toprak said prospective car buyers could see higher prices and fewer dealer incentives for some models in the months ahead.

The New York International Auto Show opens to the public on Friday and continues through May 1st at the Jacob Javits Center.

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