Created on Friday, 18 March 2011
The stories and images emerging from Japan this week have been deeply disturbing. On behalf of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) and all of its members and their employees, I'd like to convey our condolences and prayers to the millions of people in Japan who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
Daily we watch with increasing disbelief as this catastrophe unfolds. Rising death tolls and the immense devastation to the infrastructure, homes and commercial buildings fill our TV screens. The fear of radioactivity from damaged nuclear plants adds a chilling dimension to a tragic situation.
While following the crisis thus far, I am encouraged to see so many private organizations and government agencies supporting the relief and recovery efforts. Indeed, numerous global relief agencies have already begun to mobilize resources to assist in providing shelter, food, water and clothing to affected areas.
Many auto manufacturers have stepped forward to pledge money for the necessary relief and recovery efforts as well. Earlier this week, the TADA made a contribution of $10,000 (via its charitable foundation) to the Canadian Red Cross for Japan disaster relief. Many dealers have established similar relief funds as well.
No one knows how long and to what extent the crisis will affect our industry. The situation in Japan is literally changing, minute by minute. It's probably safe to assume that most commerce and much automotive trade between Japan and other countries will be affected for several months.
Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Hino, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Honda all have plants in Japan that produce trucks and automobiles for the North American market. Total Japanese vehicle production last year was 9.63 million units, almost half of which was exported.
If car owners are wondering how this crisis may affect their future automobile purchases, my best advice is to contact your local new car dealership. Dealers are receiving daily briefings from their manufacturers, regarding the production and export of parts and vehicles from Japan.
The earthquake and tsunami have caused some automobile plants to slow or temporarily shut down. The consistent supply of outsourced automotive parts may be interrupted due to damaged infrastructure. There are reports of widespread power shortages, which will impact factory production. Some of Japan's port facilities have been seriously damaged, which may slow export shipments.
This natural disaster comes at an inauspicious time. The Japanese economy has been struggling of late; and North American and European economies are still recovering from the global recession.
Whatever the economic fallout, it only serves to underscore how truly global and interconnected world economies have become. Natural disasters, economic crises and political events now immediately reverberate around the world.
All Japanese automobile makers are doing their upmost to lessen the global impact of this catastrophe on their dealers and customers. Canadian Consumers affected by the crisis will appreciate the need for patience and understanding as the situation normalizes.
The Canadian head offices of all Japanese-vehicle manufacturers, as well as the personnel at the local dealerships, are doing all they can to stay current and serve you.
Remember, this industry is very resilient and has survived other global catastrophes, including world wars, economic meltdowns, political upheavals, energy crises, natural disasters, etc.
I predict that the Japanese auto industry will soon overcome this calamity, further satisfying the demand for its products and services around the world.
In the meantime, as the situation normalizes, I am hopeful that the relief efforts from Canada and abroad will continue to offer the necessary support for this unprecedented disaster.