Japan’s Powder Metallurgy industry sluggish after devastating earthquake and tsunami hits automotive production

July 26, 2011

Iron powder shipments in Japan for PM applications fell by more than 20% in each of April and May 2011 after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11 disrupted component supplies to the country’s automotive sector.

According to figures issued by the Japan Powder Metallurgy Association (JPMA) iron powder shipments for PM for the first 5 months of 2011 reached an overall total of 40,945 tonnes – down 11% on the iron powder shipments for the same period in 2010.

Some 90% of all PM parts in Japan find their way into automotive applications.

Copper powder shipments for PM fared a little better – down 7.5% from 2349 tonnes in the first 5 months of 2010 to 2175 tonnes in the same period of 2011.

Figures from the Japan Car Manufacturers Association showed that vehicle production, including cars, trucks and buses, was down 32.5% in the first 5 months of 2011 with total vehicles produced standing at 2,687,467 units. Of this, car production accounted for 2,304,470 units.

Taking the April-June 2011 figures alone saw falls in domestic car output at Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co of around 80%, and 49% at Nissan Motor Co. due to disrupted parts supplies.

Toyota, the world’s biggest car producer, stated that whilst its factories have been running at reduced levels of output, the recovery in parts supplies should see domestic and overseas production return to normal levels by the end of the year. The company also stated that it would produce an additional 350,000 vehicles in the second half of its financial year (October 2011 to March 2012) to make up for lost production.

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