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Cars after Japan's quake: Toyota, Nissan, and Honda plan to restart production

Despite the huge difficulties the Japanese car industry is facing, analysts say automakers will be able to recover in the year ahead.

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New vehicles damaged by the March 11 tsunami waters are placed in a Toyota Motor Corp. parking lot at Sendai port in northeastern Japan, Monday, April 4.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP

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As every car owner knows, it only takes one missing part to bring a car to a screeching halt. And the average car contains anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 parts, many of which – even in American-made cars – come from Japan.

As disaster-hit Japanese automotive manufacturers and parts suppliers struggle to resume operations, the global auto industry hasn't quite come to a standstill, but it is suffering losses in production of hundreds of thousands of vehicles, amounting to billions of dollars.

"We’ve already seen production at GM, Ford, Renault, and Peugeot being disrupted,” says Christopher Richter, a Tokyo-based auto analyst for the Hong Kong-based CLSA investment group. “The auto supply chain is a bit like a house of cards; and there are going to be some surprises popping up in the form of sudden shortages down the line.”

Still, despite the huge difficulties the industry is facing, analysts say automakers like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda will be able to recover in the year ahead.

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