Japan Earthquake and its Effect on the Big Four

The  earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear reactor issues in Japan have seriously affected the motorcycle industry, especially since Japan is home to the “Big Four” motorcycle manufacturers: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha.

As the disaster relief efforts continue, some information is becoming available from the Big Four companies:

Honda released a statement earlier today, reporting it will halt production at all factories, including the Kumamoto Factory, where Honda produces the CBR600, the VFR1200F, the DN-01 and the Super Cub. Honda reported that production activities at the Kumamoto Factory will be suspended March 15-20. Honda said to assist in relief for Japan Earthquake victims, it has donated 300 million yen toward the recovery effort, and supplied 1,000 generators (gasoline-powered and home-use gas canister-powered), along with 5,000 gas canisters. Honda said it will dispatch its staff to explain how to use the donated generators. Honda also stated it would co-operate with “rolling electricity blackouts,” which will help slow electricity usage. The rolling electricity outages are being done to avoid a total electric blackout; this is because electricity demand may overcome power supply capability due to Nuclear Plant breakdown from Earthquake.

Yamaha released a statement, reporting its factories were not damaged by the quake. Yamaha continued to keep it’s factories open, and will re-evaluate the situation on Tuesday. Yamaha also reported it will co-operate in rolling electricity blackouts.

Suzuki released that it will suspend production until March 17. On that day, Suzuki management will decide when to return to production.

Kawasaki has not released any information regarding the earthquake, and if it had any impact on the motorcycle manufacturer.

About Jon Langston


  1. Editor Steve spoke to a contact at Kawasaki this a.m.: ” Gregg said no problems at the Kawasaki plant or office, but they are concerned about raw material suppliers. S”

  2. http://www.crowdrise.com/moto4japan


    “This project is the shared idea of Greg Hatton and Jon Bekefy. As motorcyclists and employees in the industry, we’re both incredibly aware of our debt to Japan. We love the sport of motorcycle racing, we’ve long earned a living in this industry, and we ride bikes built in Japan. The Japanese people have contributed to our passions and our livelihoods, and we believe, both as motorcyclists and regular humans, that we have an obligation to aid and assist them in this time of disaster and terrible loss.

    Whether you’re a rider, a racer, an industry employee, or a fan of any of the Big Four, this is your opportunity to give back to one of the most important nation-contributors of all things riding and racing.

    Every dollar donated through MotoForJapan will go directly toward funding the Red Cross’ relief efforts in that country. By giving, each contributor can be recognized as a motorcyclist who gave something back to the country that’s given us so much.”

  3. This press release from Honda came thorugh today:

    “Honda would like to express its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of the earthquake in Japan, and our sincere hopes for the earliest possible relief and recovery of the affected areas.


    Damage was widespread in the Tochigi area, where Honda has a number of operations. Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has confirmed the fatality of a Honda R&D associate at the Tochigi R&D Center, when a wall collapsed in a cafeteria. The associate was male, 43 years old.

    In addition, 17 Honda associates were injured in the Tochigi area from collapsing ceilings and other damage during the earthquake (initial reports put the number of injured at 30).

    Japan Operations

    The suspension of automobile production, which began March 14, was extended today through Sunday March 27 at the following locations: Sayama Plant at Saitama Factory (Sayama, Saitama); Suzuka Factory (Suzuka, Mie).
    The same March 27 timing applies at the Kumamoto Factory (Ozu-machi, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto), where motorcycles are produced.
    Concerning operations in Japan from March 28 on, Honda will make decisions based on the status of the recovery of Japanese society as a whole, as well as our supply of parts. We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause our customers, and request their understanding during these challenging times.
    Honda is cooperating with electricity conservation efforts and rolling blackout measures, prioritizing the relief and recovery of affected areas. Our decision to resume production could be affected by the needs of Japanese society as a whole.
    Honda has made contact with all Tier 1 suppliers in Japan and is collecting information from them regarding the status of their operations.

    With the hope to contribute to the earliest possible relief and recovery of affected areas, Honda will provide the following aid:

    From Honda in Japan, 300 million yen (approximately $3.7 million) toward the relief and recovery effort
    A total of 1,000 generators (gasoline-powered and home-use gas canister-powered), along with 5,000 gas canisters. Honda also will dispatch its staff to explain the use of this equipment.
    The Honda family of companies in North America will establish special matching gift programs for their associates for donations to the Red Cross to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Donations from associates will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis, with no personal or corporate donation limit. Honda employs more than 29, 000 associates in North America.
    Many Honda dealers have reached out to express their heartfelt concern and support regarding relief and recovery efforts in Japan. American Honda Motor Co., Inc has established a special website to accept donations to the Red Cross from its automotive, motorcycle and power equipment dealers who wish to contribute in this way.
    North American Operations

    Honda has confirmed the well-being of all Honda associates on assignment in Japan from North America.

    On March 17, certain U.S. news reports inaccurately suggested that Japan-based production of vehicles intended for sale in the United States would be suspended until May. This is not what we communicated. Honda has announced a suspension of Japanese production only through March 27.

    There is no immediate impact on Honda’s operations in North America. More than 80% of Honda and Acura products sold in the U.S. are produced in North America, and the vast majority of automotive parts for Honda automobiles manufactured in North America are sourced in the region.

    Honda’s U.S. and Canadian and Mexico Honda plants are continuing normal output of finished vehicles. In addition, we are continuing to monitor the long-term impact of the events in Japan on Honda auto production in North America because some auto parts are supplied from Japan.

    The following vehicles we build in North America are supported primarily by our base of 600-plus North American first-tier suppliers:

    Marysville, Ohio Honda Accord, Honda Accord Coupe, Acura TL, Acura RDX

    East Liberty, Ohio Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Honda Accord Crosstour

    Greensburg, Ind. Honda Civic Sedan, Honda Civic GX natural gas

    Lincoln, Alabama Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, Honda Ridgeline

    Alliston, Ontario Honda Civic (Sedan, Coupe, Si) Acura MDX, Acura ZDX, Acura CSX (The CSX is sold only in Canada)

    El Salto, Mexico Honda CR-V

    We currently have adequate inventory of products supplied from Japan.

    Honda Fit, Insight, CR-Z, Civic Hybrid, Acura TSX and Acura RL are produced in Japan for the North American market. Honda produces a small percentage of CR-Vs in Japan for the U.S. as well.

    Honda’s operations in North America and globally will do everything they can to support the recovery of Honda’s operations in Japan.”

  4. From a press release dated 3/22:

    “Three powersports industry associations today joined forces to provide financial assistance to the relief efforts currently underway in Japan.

    The boards and members of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America are collectively donating $10,000 to the 2011 Japan Relief Fund. Each organization is encouraging its members to make their own contributions. Each organization’s website now incorporates a link to the relief fund so that members and the riding community can easily make donations.

    “Thanks to the support of our boards and the contributions of our members, the MIC, MSF and SVIA are able to make a substantial financial contribution to assist the people of Japan,” said Tim Buche, president and chief executive officer of MIC, MSF and SVIA. “We also wanted to provide a way for the riding community to contribute, which is why we established website links.”

    Those interested in donating should visit MIC.org, rockmoto.com, motorcycles.org, MSF-USA.org, SVIA.org or atvsafety.org and click on the “2011 Japan Relief Fund” tab. Visitors will be directed to a page with more detailed information and a link to the Japan Relief Fund donation page on the Japan America Society of Southern California’s website.

    The JAS-SC created the 2011 Japan Relief Fund to help provide critical funds to the victims of Japan’s worst natural disaster, the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered a tsunami that caused widespread devastation and crippled nuclear power plants.

    “The devastation is too much for any country to deal with alone,” said Buche. “Japan is a vital part of our industry, now it is our turn to help them.”

    All donations will go to experienced non-governmental disaster relief agencies in Japan that have a proven track record of emergency humanitarian relief and restoration work. “