The massive earthquake in Japan will disrupt auto production in the beleaguered nation, but exactly how long it will last is uncertain.
A key factor still to be determined is whether the Japanese ports from which the auto companies ship vehicles and parts will be able to resume operations soon.
Much of what the top three brands — Toyota, Honda and Nissan — sell in the United States is already made in North America. The question will be whether there are high-profit cars — such as Toyota’s Lexus line or Honda’s Acura brand, which are still made in Japan — that can’t be shipped here.
A large batch of vehicles is already in transit, so inventories should not be a problem in the short term, said Michael Robinet, an analyst with IHS Automotive.