RICK KRANZ

Japanese take steps to ease fears about exported vehicles

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

Honda, Nissan and Toyota -- concerned that Americans might steer clear of vehicles assembled in Japan amid the country's nuclear power crisis -- are taking steps to ease those fears.

Three Japanese automakers announced that every measure was being taken to assure that each vehicle headed to the United States would be safe from radiation that could create a heath risk. Vehicles that could potentially harm shippers, dealers and eventually consumers would not be exported here.

One of Nissan's ports was the target of the destruction. A photograph with hundreds of Nissan vehicles tossed around like toys by the tsunami was seen on web sites, and the front page of Automotive News. But the bigger issue was Nissan's proximity to the damaged nuclear reactor.

"We know just from some media reports and also from some of the chatter in the market that there has been a question on consumers' minds about whether manufacturers would be doing anything to ensure that the cars coming in are safe in terms of radioactive material," Dave Reuter, vice president of corporate communications for Nissan North America, said in a telephone interview.

"There is obviously a lot of misinformation going on. What we have done is initiated monitoring of our ports and our vehicles to ensure that anything made in Japan is going to be safe in terms of traces of radioactive material."

Reuter said "the products that are coming from Nissan will remain within globally accepted safety standards with respect to radioactive material. We are taking every measure possible to make sure that we are not bringing anything into the country."

The measures should ease the concerns of U.S. dealers and buyers.

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