Nissan has announced that as a consequence of Friday's devastating 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan production at all of its factories will remain halted until it has fully assessed the damage sustained to its factories, equipment and parts suppliers.  

Although Nissan's factories  have been spared the brunt of the damage which Japanese Prime minister Naoto Kan called the biggest crisis since World War II, Nissan has said six of its plants suffered some damage to buildings and equipment and is currently assessing if its own supply chains are intact. 

Without a working parts supply chain, Nissan's factories will struggle to produce cars at its facilities, including the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

In addition to damage sustained at production facilities, Nissan has also sustained major damage at its facilities on the Pacific coast. An estimated  2,300 vehicles were damaged as the tsunami rushed inland, including 1,300 U.S. bound vehicles. There are no confirmations as to how many Leafs were destroyed.

Nissan is not alone: both Honda and Toyota have also suspended operations temporarily, while the damage to both humans and facilities are inspected.  

Buyers of U.S.-built Japanese cars should not notice an immediate impact, but are warned that if supply chains in Japan are severely affected there may be a knock-on impact in the months to come. Customers waiting for a 2011 Nissan Leaf will feel an immediate effect however, as the all-electric hatchback is currently only made at Nissan's Oppama factory. Until U.S. domestic production commences in 2012, expect deliveries from Japan to be heavily delayed until Nissan's factories are back to full production.

But in the wake of one of history's most devastating earthquakes, the production of cars really isn't the most important thing. Restoring power, sanitation and shelter to the thousands of citizens without homes is, along with limiting the damage to residents near the damaged Nuclear power facilities at Fukushima

Our sympathies and thoughts go out to the citizens of Japan. If you would like to donate to the aid effort, please consider donating to the relief funds over at the Red Cross Appeal page

[The Detroit News (subscription required]