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Car dealers see little change since Japans disasters
Rental services, accessories stores likely won't see much change
0405Japan2
Milton Martin Honda service center shop employee Randy Lewis performs a diagnostic check Monday on a Honda Civic in Gainesville. The dealership has not yet experienced any issues with parts or inventory because of the earthquake in Japan. However, it expects supplies will be affected in the coming months. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Gainesville's car dealers haven't yet felt many effects from the earthquake in Japan, but they may see shortages in coming months.

"It hasn't affected us at all here," said Mack Ashley, sales manager at Jim Hardman Buick-GMC on Browns Bridge Road. "There has been a small parts shortage on GMC Canyon pickup trucks, but most of our cars are built and manufactured in North America."

However, inventories may drop as manufacturing plants shut down, Ashley added.

"As Subaru, Isuzu, Honda and Toyota plants shut down, that'll affect import production here in the U.S. and the parts that go in those cars," he said.

On Monday afternoon, a Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman said the company will shut down its North American factories later this month due to parts shortages from Japan.

Toyota receives about 15 percent of its parts from Japan for cars and trucks built in North America and has more than a dozen North American factories.

Ford, Nissan and Chrysler also have announced disrupted production schedules at their North American plants.

"This is an unprecedented time for the automotive
industry. This has never happened before," said Jim Foote, an owner of Milton Martin Honda on Browns Bridge Road. "We're not feeling anything right now, but we could be impacted about three months down the road."

Honda manufactures about 80 percent of its vehicles in North America, though the popular Insight and CR-V models are produced in Japan, Foote said. Honda Motor Co. announced Monday that production and shipment of component parts would resume at 50 percent of operations. Two plants in Japan will resume production of complete automobiles on April 11.

"We have a good supply of inventory for now. With production down about 30 days, we'll certainly see an impact, but I believe it'll be minimal," Foote said. "From what we're hearing, there's an urgency to get everything back up and running."

Car dealers are now preparing for any possible shortages, said Marvin Mattson, general manager at Moss Robertson Cadillac-Mazda-Isuzu on Browns Bridge Road.

"We haven't had any problems with both parts or cars, but it's probably going to happen, so we're doing everything we can to have the right parts at the right time," he said. "People are understanding about what's going on, but we know they may not be if they have to wait for a part that we can't get."

Mattson is expecting to see changes with the Mazda stock in particular.

"We'll see more of an impact on Mazda rather than GM because they put off ordering cars for 30 days, but at least that plant is in the southern part of Japan, which wasn't hit," he said. "GM shut down parts of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon because of a computer chip. We're working hard on our end to do what we can."

Other car services, such as rental stores and accessories shops, likely will see minimal changes for now.

"We're still getting our stock the next day," said Shalane Lam of Lam's Motorsports . "We're still busy selling accessories and installing window tints. The dealerships are keeping us busy, so we're not being affected."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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