For years, the Japanese — particularly the Big-3 of Honda, Toyota and Nissan — prided themselves on “lean” manufacturing — keeping low inventory and just-in-time production. This model has proven successful, so long as processes and conditions under which those processes work goes unchanged. The tsunami changed everything.
Now, some 4 months later, Japanese automakers are not only nearing pre-disaster levels, but have emphatically rallied back. The three companies worked together, sharing valued relationships and connections with suppliers to bring the high demand for parts to a manageable level. This cooperation in the face of disaster is inspiring and offers insights to how combined efforts can tackle even the most daunting of situations (i.e., the financial instability of the United States and an inability to communicate in nonpartisan ways.)
“We are pleased to see a positive turnaround represented by this significant improvement in our production situation,” said Honda Canada executive vice president Jerry Chenkin at Honda Canada’s new, eco-driven headquarters in Markham. “Throughout this crisis, Honda has been working hard to achieve a speedy recovery, while maintaining a focus on our longer-term plans for continued growth in sales and production in order to meet the growing needs of our customers.”
Speaking directly to production levels, the anticipated 2012 Honda Civic has shipped 10,000 to 12,000 units. However, the US and Canada sell close to 35,000 Civics per month. “If I had another hundred, I could have sold another hundred,” says Brian Benstock of Paragon Honda. Benstock has been selling the 2012 Civic for around 60 days and when asked how many he has sold, Benstock said with a laugh: “All of them.” Later, he noted that the production/supply aftermath of the earthquake “made a hot product even more difficult to get.”
The Japanese women’s World Cup victory brought an apropos mark to a rather glorious semi-transition from disaster to triumph. In no way has Japan fully transitioned; there are many logistical and emotional hurdles to traverse. However, it’s inspiring to see a nation bounce-back in the way Japan has.
Tier10 produced the Honda Civic “Heritage” video as a celebration of the Honda Civic’s proud history. In the context of this blog post, however, we are happy to share “Heritage” with you in the spirit of where Japan and Honda have been, and the inspiration we’ve gained from their perseverance.