Japanese automakers halt production, trickle-down effect in the U.S.
By Megan Boatwright
Channel 3 Eyewitness News
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Production at Japan's three major auto companies is halted. Toyota, Honda and Nissan continue to review damage to plants, roads and ports.
While all companies have North American plants, some vehicles are only manufactured in Japan. For Toyota that includes the Prius Hybrid.
Chattanooga's Capital Toyota has three Prius Hybrid's left on their lot. Especially in light of rising gas prices, dealerships are they're expecting shortages.
"They're having rolling blackouts in Japan," says Capital Toyota Sales Manager, Ed Emerson, explaining why Toyota halted production. "That's because of the situation with the nuclear power plants."
Emerson says production halts could mean delays for customers. "A lot of the Lexus product is still built in Japan," Emerson says. "All your hybrids are still built in Japan."
Which includes the Prius. A vehicle Emerson says he's watched move to the top selling position again, as gas prices continue to rise.
"We're down to three Prius in stock," says the salesman. "I do have some coming in, but it will probably affect in-stock inventory."
Johnny Pye, with Dalton's Pye Nissan agrees. "What we'll run into are some spot shortages on certain cars, colors and equipment," Pye says.
The Prius is no stranger to waiting lists. Emerson remembers a time, not so long ago, when high demand meant wait time was a year long. Still the salesman says if you're on the market for a Prius Hybrid, now is the time to buy.
"If a customer has been contemplating buying they may want to go ahead and make a decision," Emerson says. "Otherwise they could find themselves waiting for a while."
Tuesday afternoon Toyota and Subaru halted some production in North America.
Subaru of America suspended overtime at a plant in Lafayette, Ind. Toyota suspended overtime and production on Saturdays at all of its North American factories. Both companies are trying to conserve parts. Nissan and Honda say their American plants aren't affected.