Is it possible to put a figure on the sales opportunity that exists for carmakers as a result of Japan's earthquake/tsunami crisis? Daniel Cheng, head of the automotive practice at A.T. Kearney, has given it a shot.
Cheng says almost 200,000 U.S. car buyers who normally would snap up a Japanese-brand vehicle are "up for grabs" because the quake-slammed automakers are short of vehicles. And if production isn't back to normal until the fourth quarter, that number will rise to 328,000.
He figures that the crisis reduced production of vehicles planned for sale in the United States by 341,000 units from March 11 to May 13. Cheng assumes that 42 percent of buyers -- the average brand loyalty industrywide -- will wait for their favorite brand to catch up, leaving 197,000 buyers in play.
Japan's Big 3 are most at risk. Of the 197,000 orphaned customers, Cheng says 157,000 are from Honda, Toyota and Nissan and 36,000 are from other Japanese brands. The other 4,000 would have bought a Detroit 3 brand or another brand that wasn't produced because of parts shortages.
Cheng said General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Hyundai stand to capture most of the shoppers who defect from the Japanese brands.