Japanese earthquake takes toll on automakers

The massive mid-January earthquake that hit the important port city of Kobe in western Japan damaged at least two automotive assembly plants and disrupted deliveries from key suppliers to assembly plants across the island nation. Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd. stopped production at two quake-damaged assembly plants, Toyota Motor Corp. lost 20,000 units when it shut down all of its assembly facilities for

The massive mid-January earthquake that hit the important port city of Kobe in western Japan damaged at least two automotive assembly plants and disrupted deliveries from key suppliers to assembly plants across the island nation. Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd. stopped production at two quake-damaged assembly plants, Toyota Motor Corp. lost 20,000 units when it shut down all of its assembly facilities for lack of brake calipers and audio components, and Mazda Motor Corp. shut down its Hiroshima and Hofu plants temporarily because of parts shortages, losing 3,000 units of output. U.S. automakers say the Kobe quake also held up parts shipments to their facilities. In Southern California, meanwhile, a purveyor of bottled drinking water can't resist reviving memories of the great Northridge quake that occurred precisely one year before the Kobe upheaval. The bottler polls drivers, asking if they have "earthquake preparedness kits" on board. Only 25% say they do. What's in such kits? Items like flashlights, clothing, money and candy bars -- but also, of course, bottled water.

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