Japanese carmakers face crash dive

A warning that Japan`s carmakers could be hit by an economic tsunami as the global recession worsens next year has been sounded by Osamu Suzuki, president of Suzuki Motors.

He said the meltdown that has pushed the US Big Three - General Motors, Chrysler and Ford - to the brink is already impacting on Japan`s ten big manufacturers.

And the worst is still to come: "There is a time-lag between what is happening with the Big Three US carmakers and the impact that will have in Japan," he said.

"It is as if tsunami waves are rolling toward Japanese shores. I believe a real wave will hit us around July or August next year, with car sales hitting rock bottom."

Some investors already see some sort of consolidation among the ten main players, including Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Isuzu, as inevitable - and desirable.

Honda has already hit the headlines with it earnings downgrade and withdrawal from Formula One motor racing, while Toyota is starring down the barrel of its first full-year loss since the 1940s.

Mr Suzuki said that the world "is entering a period in which more than ten Japanese carmakers could be consolidated into a Japan Big Three".

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