Automakers and major suppliers, desperate for parts, are starting to replace vendors devastated by Japan's earthquake and tsunami.
For raw materials and some components, automakers can make the switch fairly swiftly. Replacing electronics and other highly engineered parts -- already in short supply before the March 11 quake -- will take more time.
Here are two examples of parts that can be replaced relatively easily:
-- Just two days after the quake, Shanghai Baosteel Group Corp., China's largest steel maker, said it offered to ship steel plates to Chinese assembly plants operated by Honda, Toyota and Nissan after shipments from Japanese steel makers were disrupted.
-- Hyundai Mobis Co. of Korea said it is lining up suppliers to replace "fewer than 10" Japanese vendors affected by the quake. A spokesman said the company has found replacements but declined to name them.
But finding new sources of high-tech electronics components is daunting. Computer chips, a key component of engine control units, antilock brakes, airbags and many other systems, are in especially short supply.
Automakers and Tier 1 suppliers are reluctant to discuss their scramble to bolster inventories of electronics. Predicting when production will be back to normal was a challenge last week for forecasters. In one indicator, analysts predict months of price spikes as suppliers struggle to resume normal operations.
The search for new suppliers clearly is in full swing. For example, Nissan Motor Co. says 40 of its suppliers still are not fully recovered from the quake.
Is Nissan looking for replacements? "Everybody is," replied spokesman Simon Sproule. "From Day 1 we were looking."