Auto disruptions from Japan quake spread

Employees of Toyota Motor Corporation work during the assembly process at the company's Takaoka Plant on December 2, 2005 in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Kai Ryssdal: Toyota said today there's no earthquake-induced shortage of car parts just yet. But it wants to make sure its dealers don't create a shortage by hoarding in anticipation of a supply chain slowdown.

Rationing replacement parts could be an annoyance for customers, and for dealers' bottom lines. Marketplace's Alisa Roth has more on how the earthquake is affecting the global economy.


Alisa Roth: Toyota has put more than 230 parts on a special list. They're parts dealers aren't allowed to just order for their inventories anymore.

Earl Stewart: We can still order the parts, but we have to have a customer who needs the part.

Earl Stewart is a Toyota dealer in North Palm Beach, Fla. He used to place regular orders for extra parts. For some of them, he would keep a month's supply in stock. Now, Toyota's making it harder to do that.

Stewart: We are asked to furnish a VIN number, a serial number of the car, the name of the customer and the repair order that the part's being used on.

The parts on the list are mostly for the Prius and the Corolla. Stewart says he can still get whatever parts he needs. But there could be a delay of a day or so.

Other Toyota dealers are facing the same issue. But it's still a relatively small problem. A car has tens of thousands of parts; only about 230 of them are on the list. And, for now, Toyota does still have them. So what's this all mean for Toyota drivers?

Brian Sponheimer is an analyst who follows several big car dealerships at Gabelli. It's an asset management firm.

Brian Sponheimer: It will be inconvenient if the parts shortage issue is exacerbated over the course of the next month or so. I think it will top out at a nuisance though.

Still, it could be end up being more than a nuisance for dealers. A lot of their revenue comes from parts and service, so prolonged delays in parts shipments could end up costing them.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...