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Local Car Dealers Unsure Of Tsunami’s Impact

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Aired 3/15/11

Japan’s main export is cars. But the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami have wreaked havoc on the industry. But the effects have yet to be felt on the local level.

— Production has been halted at auto plants in Japan and disrupted at plants in this country. But Lance Roberts with the New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County said it’s still too early to tell what the impact on local retail sales will be.

A Southern California Toyota dealership on January 26, 2010. Japanese auto-makers have shut down plants in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami. It's not yet clear what the impact on local dealers will be.
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Above: A Southern California Toyota dealership on January 26, 2010. Japanese auto-makers have shut down plants in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami. It's not yet clear what the impact on local dealers will be.

He said most area dealers have an ample supply of cars on hand.

“I would say the average is probably a couple of months,” he said. “It does vary from brand to brand as to how far out the manufacturers want to stretch their inventory supplies.”

Roberts said it’s likely there are still cars at ports around the country waiting to be shipped to dealerships.

“Again, with probably a certain level of supply on the ground here, and also vehicles being made here in the United States, that may blunt some of what otherwise could be a very devastating impact,” he said.

Roberts said the global nature of the auto industry makes it difficult to trace the origin of all parts that go into cars, vans, SUVs and trucks. Parts are made in Japan, Mexico and Canada, among other places. Roberts said it could be weeks before the impact on local dealerships becomes clearer.

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