Honda Extends U.S. Order Limits for Japan-Built Autos, Delays C-RV Sales

Honda Motor Co. extended limits on U.S. dealer orders of Japan-built autos and delayed the release of a new CR-V sport-utility vehicle to manage the impact of a record earthquake in March.

The Tokyo-based company doesn’t expect to restore full production at plants in North America until late this year because of the disruption of parts supplies caused by the March 11 quake, Gary Robinson, a U.S.-based Honda spokesman said. The release of the 2012 CR-V is likely to be at least a month later than planned and production of the redesigned Civic that went on sale in late April will be limited for a few months, he said.

Japan’s carmakers including Honda, the country’s third- largest, are working to restore operations after the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami damaged factories and power plants, causing shortages of components and electricity. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Japan’s largest automaker, said last month it also didn’t expect to restore global auto assembly fully until at least November.

“Recovery from this crisis is difficult and constantly evolving, most notably the challenge of obtaining a few key components required to maintain production at appropriate levels,” John Mendel, Honda’s U.S. executive vice president told U.S. dealers in a letter today. “Overall production volume will be at significantly reduced levels as we continue production adjustments through the summer months.”

Meeting Delayed

Along with the impact on North American auto assembly, Honda is also delaying its annual meeting with U.S. Honda and Acura brand dealers, Robinson said.

Separately, the company also said today it will shift production of three SUV models among U.S. and Canadian plants. In 2012, production of CR-V will be added at its Alliston, Ontario, plant, in addition to already being built in East Liberty, Ohio.

The Acura RDX SUV, now built at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, plant, will move to the nearby East Liberty plant in 2012, Robinson said. Midsize Acura MDX SUVs, now built in Ontario, will be produced at Honda’s Lincoln, Alabama, plant starting in 2013, Robinson said.

The change in production of the models is unrelated to the current parts disruption, he said.

Honda’s U.S. operations are based in Torrance, California. The company’s American depositary receipts rose 79 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $39.14 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They’ve fallen 0.9 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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