The recovery in the supply of parts to Honda Motor <7267.T> is gathering pace, the automaker said on Tuesday, as the firm looks to bring forward its return to normal production after a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan disrupted supply chains.
We want to move up our schedule for returning to normal but that depends on the supply of parts, Honda Chief Financial Officer Fumihiko Ike also told a small group of reporters. But we are seeing recovery speed up in those supplies.
He also said the company plans to announce its earnings forecast for the current fiscal year before a shareholder meeting on June 23.
Japanese automakers have slashed production since the magnitude-9.0 earthquake on March 11 due to a shortage of supply from damaged parts makers, a few dozen of which are still seen as being in a critical condition.
Honda has limited access to electronic components, rubber parts and coloring materials, Ike said.
The firm said late last month that it expected vehicle production to fully return to levels planned before the March 11 earthquake by year-end, and to stay at about half those plans through the end of June.
Ike on Tuesday said that this was a worst-case scenario, however, suggesting the situation at the automaker could be better than previously expected.
Reporting full-year earnings in May, rivals Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> and Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> painted a more upbeat picture. Toyota has said production would gradually pick up from June, while Nissan has said it expects a full recovery by October.
Analysts have said they expect the pace of recovery to be roughly similar at all three car makers.
The catastrophes in Japan came at a particularly inopportune time for Honda, which has just remodeled its popular Civic and had been counting on it to drive sales growth this year.
Indeed, Ike said it would be tough to ensure smooth supplies of the Civic in the United Sates.
(Reporting by Kentaro Sugiyama; Writing by Junko Fujita; Editing by; Joseph Radford)