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Japan Crisis Affects Auto Industry; Not Expected to Impact RV Production

The tragedy in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami has deeply impacted Japanese businesses and the country’s overall economy.  According to numerous news stories, the economic impact is also being felt in the U.S. – particularly on the supply side.  

According the Wall Street Journal, Japan accounts for nearly nine percent of the world’s economic output and is the entry point in Asia for companies doing business there.  Japan is the world’s fourth largest exporter and an important source for advanced components used heavily by global industries to make finished products. 

The world’s automakers in particular are feeling the immediate impact of the disruption in the supply of automotive and electronic components.  Parts shortages could reduce global auto production by about 30%, according to a study released the forecasting firm IHS Automotive and reported in Automotive News.  General Motors was forced to halt production at a Shreveport, La. plant due to the disaster.

In talking with several leaders in the RV industry, current thinking is supply side shortages won’t be near the same degree.

“Based on inquiries of our suppliers, we don’t anticipate any disruption in the supply of materials used in the manufacture of our products,” said Bill Fisher, Winnebago’s director of purchasing. “Given the wide variety of components we utilize there may be some items that may surface in coming weeks, but we are not aware of any specific item that could become a problem.”

“We have seen lead times increase on some electronic parts and lateness in some deliveries, but overall I don’t see this creating a material shortage or having an impact on the RV industry,” said Craig Floyd, RVIA’s Supplier Committee Chairman and national sales manger at Technology Research Corporation, a company that provides power distribution and electronic equipment to the RV industry.

RVIA will continue discussions with industry contacts and monitor the marketplace for changes in the situation that could lead to potential production disruptions.


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