Japan Quake Could Effect Electric Car Production

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With a potential nuclear disaster to avoid, Japanese officials have more important problems to worry about than electric cars. But the earthquake and tsunami are expected to have an effect on production of the cars of the future.

According to a report on the web site Plug in Cars, most of the production plants escaped damage. However, they have been closed since Friday, and it has yet to be determines if the rest of the supply chain will be effected.

Plug in Cars writes:

While it's still too early to determine what kinds of long-term effects the earthquake may have on getting Japanese-built vehicles into the United States and around the rest of the world, what is clear is that the supply of electric vehicles will be affected at least in the short term. Both the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV are exclusively made in Japan—no matter where they are sold around the world.

Nissan reports that a shipment of 600 LEAFs bound for the U.S. left port in Japan on March 10, just prior to the earthquake. However, it is not known if any other LEAFs were waiting to be shipped, or if those cars were damaged in the earthquake and the tsunami that followed.

Nissan said it hopes to reopen its LEAF plant on Wednesday. But with power at a premium in Japan, it is not clear if that will be possible.

The situation is similar with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which is not yet available in the U.S. They are expected to go on sale later this year.

Plug in Cars speculates that the situation could force Nissan's hand do to something that could actually benefit the U.S.:

Although everything is far from clear, we may be looking at some kind of impact on U.S. LEAF deliveries until the Smyrna, Tenn., factory comes online at the end of 2012. Perhaps the events will even force Nissan to step up construction of that battery plant and start U.S. production of the LEAF earlier than planned?

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