Belfast Telegraph

Ford puts brakes on production after Japan quake

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 precautionary measure, 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 global car companies trimming their activities in response to the Japanese 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, killing nearly 10,000 people and leaving another 16,500 missing.

The production rotation scheme - which aims to avoid scheduled blackouts - is one of several measures being mooted as manufacturers face a drop in power supply of up to 15%.

Japanese carmakers have already significantly cut production following the disaster.

Although Toyota plans to resume work imminently at three factories further from the disaster zone, shutdowns at the other nine of its plants continue, leaving the world's biggest carmaker short by around 140,000 vehicles so far.

Its rival Honda - which has lost output of an estimated 47,000 cars and 5,000 motorcycles - has also extended the shutdown at its Saitama and Suzuka car plants, although it is due to restart motorcycle production at its Kumamoto factory today.

Belfast Telegraph