It seems like an eternity ago, but the disasters in Japan are just a few months removed. March saw the greatest natural devastation the island nation has ever seen. The people are recovering, but there are still repercussions being seen around the globe five months later. Those repercussions are manifesting themselves as shortages of products, especially automobiles.
Here in the United States it is common place to see a lot of empty pavement at a dealerships. Dirty asphalt that used to be covered by Honda’s and Toyota’s parked bumper to bumper. Those shortages are making some dealerships into leaner, more customer friendly companies and others are looking for the exit. The trend is even affecting the providers of California auto loans, as fewer cars being sold translate to fewer loan originations.
New car dealers are having to focus on used car sales. Staffing levels are cut to bare minimum. Who needs seven salespeople for one car? Business plans are lining trash cans across America. These shortages are beginning to lift as factories are reopening and parts begin to flow, but it may be early in 2012 before inventory levels reach pre-disaster levels. By then the American car buying public should see a more resilient marketplace.