Japanese quake breaks supply chains

A factory worker at Toyota's Takaoka plant looks over assembly process.

TEXT OF STORY

Lisa Napoli: That nuclear power plant in Japan has been shut down indefinitely after the quake there earlier this week. Officials insist a fresh leak of radioactive material found in the aftermath isn't dangerous. Three of the automakers in Japan are at a standstill these next couple of days because of damages to a supplier. Alisa Roth has more.


Alisa Roth: The company that supplies piston rings to many of Japan's automakers had to shut down 11 factories after the earthquake.

Toyota, Nissan and Suzuki are among the car makers that'll have to close up shop for a few days because they can't get those parts.

Bruce Belzowski is at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. He says these kinds of disruptions are especially bad for the Japanese auto industry because car makers don't stockpile parts.

Belzowski says car buyers may feel a bit of a pinch.

Bruce Belzowski: There's just gonna be probably a . . . I would think depending on the vehicle, some shortages, but not dramatic.

But he says any shortages would end up hurting the car makers more. They might be able to make up for lost production . . .

Belzowski: But they can't bring back the buyers who went and bought other vehicles during that period of time.

It's not just car makers who've been affected. Several other parts makers will also have to stop production because of lack of supplies.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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