The devastating earthquake in Japan has crippled the auto industry in the country. Since March 11, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all shut down auto production there due to damaged factories and a shortage of supply parts. Toyota may, in fact, lose production of 140,000 vehicles through March 26.
Toyota is now saying, though, that it will resume production of three hybrid models in Japan, starting Monday (March 28). The Japanese manufacturer will restart output of the Prius, Lexus HS250h and Lexus CT200h hybrid models, which are in high demand right now. A fear of shortages and the high price of oil has increased the demand for hybrids and fuel-efficient cars across the U.S.. Prices of the Prius have even gone up at some dealerships. Wholesale prices on used Priuses have apparently increased by about $1,500 just in the last month, USA Today reports, while the average price paid for the Prius had risen by 0.5 percent within the first four days after the quake, to $25,629.
Toyota will, however, delay the launch of the Prius hybrid minivan and wagon because of a shortage of supply parts. The cars were initially meant to be rolled out in April.
Honda, on its end, will continue to keep its plants closed until April 3. Nissan head Carlos Ghosn said that about 40 of the company's auto-parts makers were affected the earthquake, hampering production. Nissan hopes to restart production next week.
To make matters worse, Japan is also dealing with blackouts and a fuel shortage after its nuclear-power plant was crippled.
Japan built 9.63 million vehicles in 2010, though its too early to tell what 2011 estimates look like.
Our thoughts are with the people of Japan.