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Japanese automakers face new challenges, Mazda CEO says

November 16, 2011|By Angel Jennings
  • Mazda Chief Executive Takashi Yamanouchi is flanked by Mazda North America CEO Jim O'Sullivan, left, and actor Patrick Dempsey in front of a new Mazda CX-5 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Mazda Chief Executive Takashi Yamanouchi is flanked by Mazda North America… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Japanese automakers, not fully recovered from supply shortages in the wake of the spring's massive earthquake and tsunami, still have a "rough road ahead" of them, said Takashi Yamanouchi, president and chief executive of Mazda Motor Corp.

The strength of the yen against the U.S. dollar and the euro, as well as current flooding in Thailand, are the latest difficulties facing Japan's ailing auto industry, he said.

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Yamanouchi opened the L.A. Auto Show on Wednesday with stories recalling the solidarity among Japanese, Americans and Europeans after the magnitude 8.9 quake rattled Japan in March.

Many companies were back at full production within three months, not the six or nine months predicted by industry observers, Yamanouchi said.

"Information was gathered and shared in the industry level," he said. "And decisions were made quickly to support recovery."

Many Japanese companies moved production to nearby Thailand to minimize losses, but the recent flooding there may halt or slow manufacturing.

Mazda is unveiling its new generation of vehicles at the show, including the compact crossover CX-5, which will encompass new body design and new technologies.

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