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Ripples of Japan disaster to last into summer

Honda’s production to remain around 50 percent for near future

Production at Honda’s North American plants will stay about 50 percent of normal levels as the automaker continues to struggle with damage to its Japan operations from a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In general, local Honda of America Manufacturing Co. Inc. plants will be rolled back to three days a week, according to spokesman Ron Lietzke.

Starting May 9 and running through July 1, each Monday and Friday will be a non-production day. Each Tuesday, production will run just four hours each shift while production will run eight hours each Wednesday and Thursday.

Mr. Lietzke said production adjustments could occur throughout the summer, and as stated before, production could vary from plant to plant depending on parts availability.

On non-production days, associates would have the option of staying at the plants and working on equipment maintenance, training and developing better production techniques or taking time off, either as vacation or unpaid without penalty.

They will be required to take two days a month off as either vacation or unpaid leave without penalty, Mr. Lietzke said.

The plan to reduce production here in North America mirrors strategies used in 2009 when an economic collapse severely cut the demand for new automobiles.

Honda continues to monitor the availability of the engine and electronic components made in Japan.

Because of problems with the supply of Japan-sourced paint pigment that adds a shiny luster, certain colors of vehicles may be in short supply.

Honda is working diligently to find a suitable replacement for such paints, or to reconfigure its model line with alternative exterior colors.

This situation varies by model and production facility.

The March 11 disaster forced the closure of some plants because of electrical shortages and efforts to recover from the disaster, while other plants sustained damage.

Mr. Lietzke noted demand for the Honda fuel efficient vehicle remains strong across its vehicle lineup.

However, there is limited availability for the 2012 Civic models. Customers should work with dealers to find the best model to meet their needs or wait until new vehicles roll off the production line.

The supply of four-cylinder Accords and CR-Vs remains healthy, he said.

A planned fall release of the popular 2012 CR-V has been postponed at least one month, the automaker announced, so production of the current model at the East Liberty Auto Plant will continue.

Honda hopes its plans will minimize the impact on its workforce and their families.

American Honda has established a special Web site for donations from anyone to the American Red Cross to support disaster recovery:

The site originally was established to accept donations from Honda and Acura automobile dealers, and Honda motorcycle and power equipment dealers.

To date, the “Friends of Honda” campaign through the Red Cross has accepted donations totaling nearly $600,000.

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