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Stabroek News

Automakers report rise in July production
published: Sunday | August 31, 2008


Japan's top three automakers said global production in July rose to records for that month, highlighting solid growth riding on their reputation for fuel-efficient models amid soaring gasolene prices.

Toyota Motor Corp - close to passing up General Motors Corp to become the world's biggest automaker - said last Wednesday that worldwide output rose 10.2 per cent in July from a year ago to 812,147 vehicles.

Honda Motor Co, Japan's second-biggest automaker, reported July production jumped 17.7 per cent to 342,152 vehicles. Demand for its Fit subcompact, the best-selling car in Japan for the ninth month in a row, has benefited the company.

Nissan Motor Co also racked up record production for July at 315,975 vehicles, up 26.8 per cent on year, on strong sales of its Maxima and Altima sedans in the US and the Teana and other models in China.

Robust growth

The robust growth for the Japanese comes at a time when soaring gas prices have hurt the world's auto industry.

Honda makes more vehicles abroad than at home. Its output overseas shot up 19.3 per cent to 229,996 vehicles, while domestic production rose 14.5 per cent to 112,156, the first rise in 11 months.

Mazda Motor Corp also reported robust global production for July - up 25.5 per cent to 126,025 vehicles.

The Hiroshima-based partner of US automaker Ford Motor Co credited healthy demand for Mazda2, sold as the Demio in Japan, and Mazda6, or Atenza in Japan, for the production increase.

All the world's automakers are struggling to shift their product offerings from gas-guzzling trucks and sport utility vehicles, whose profit margins per vehicle are bigger, to smaller models.

Toyota's exports surged 12.5 per cent in July to 246,809 vehicles, while Honda's exports declined in July for the third straight month at 56,415 vehicles, down 6.9 per cent from a year ago. Nissan's exports zoomed 84.2 per cent to 83,429 vehicles on healthy demand in North America, Europe and Russia.

Only decline

Mitsubishi Motors Corp was the only major Japanese automaker to report a decline in global production last month at 113,538 vehicles, edging down 0.9 per cent over July 2007.

Japanese automakers have fared better than US automakers General Motors and Ford, which have lost billions of dollars this year.

Despite a falling dollar that hurts the earnings of global Japanese exporters, Honda reported a record 179.6 billion yen (US$1.68 billion) profit for the fiscal first quarter, up 8 per cent from the previous year.

By contrast, Toyota, which has more trucks and SUVs than Honda in its line-up, saw its fiscal first quarter profit plunge 28 per cent on year to 353.66 billion yen (US$3.23 billion). Nissan's April-June profit dropped 42.8 per cent to 52.8 billion yen (US$505 million).

Despite the upbeat numbers - released before trading closed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange - the big three auto companies' shares fell. Toyota shares dipped 2.7 per cent to 4,770 yen (US$44), Honda stock fell 2.2 per cent to 3,530 yen (US$32), and Nissan lost 4.7 per cent to 814 yen (US$7).

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