Belfast Telegraph

Car giant Ford counts cost of Japan quake

By Sarah Arnott

Ford is the latest car giant to cut production as the industrial fallout from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami ripples through the global automotive industry.

The US company said at the weekend that it will idle its factory in Genk, Belgium, for five days in early April, to conserve supplies of parts shipped from Japan. The group stressed that the move is a defensive strategy, rather than a response to a direct shortage.

"Given the situation in Japan, we took this as a precautionary measure," a Ford spokesman said.

But Ford is just the latest addition to a growing list of car companies trimming activities in response to the disaster.

Within Japan, major automakers are discussing plans to take turns to run their assembly lines, as the country suffers shortages from power plants crippled by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated swathes of the coast.

A dearth of parts from Japan could cut global car production by as much as 30%, analysts estimate. With as many as 500 component makers affected by the disaster, production could drop by 100,000 vehicles per day if supply is not resumed within six weeks, according to some industry experts.