Japan lost autos output to hit 338,000 Friday: IHS

DETROIT Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:25pm EDT

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DETROIT (Reuters) - Japan automakers in the first two weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami will lose about 65 percent in light vehicle production, industry consultant IHS Automotive Insight said Monday in a report.

Japan output is normally about 37,200 vehicles per day, or about 521,000 in a two-week period. IHS said that nearly 338,000 vehicles of that production through Friday will have been lost.

Lost production outside of Japan is so far about 10,000 vehicles, but that number will rise "exponentially" as more plants of suppliers are affected, making components for cars and trucks become less available, IHS said.

Indeed, General Motors Co (GM.N) has idled a plant in Louisiana that makes Canyon and Colorado pickup trucks, and a plant near Buffalo, New York, that makes engines for those trucks.

"It could take seven weeks of full production with overtime at a (plant) to compensate for one week of lost production volume -- if all components are available and volume is not lost due to demand decline," said IHS.

IHS noted that damage at the plants is only one factor that will limit production. Other factors include rolling blackouts and the availability of water and sewer services, and the conditions at ports, railways, and roads.

The crisis involving the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan also has slowed production at suppliers and automakers.

"The lack of clarity surrounding the Fukushima nuclear radiation situation has provided an additional brake on meaningful restoration efforts" of services and production plants, IHS said.

"For each production workday that Japanese light-vehicle production is not functional, around 37,000 vehicles are lost," IHS said. "This loss would need to be compensated for once output can resume."

Normal production at Japan's automakers studied is 37,217 per day, led by Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), which accounts for almost 44 percent of total Japanese output, followed by Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) at about 12 percent.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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