Domestic auto production sees 1.5% increase in ’96

Domestic vehicle production in 1996 rose 1.5 percent from the previous year to total 10.34 million units, posting a year-on-year increase for the first time since 1990, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association reported Jan. 27.The increase in output is largely attributable to a recovery in domestic demand, which rose 3.1 percent, posting three consecutive years of increase, the association said. But industry officials admit that they cannot be relieved by the recovery in the domestic market, as the declining exports and the expansion of the imported cars’ market share are leading to the rising overcapacity of domestic auto plants, especially at automakers with lower market share.Despite the depreciation of the yen, the automakers’ exports dropped 2 percent, posting its 11th consecutive year of decline, according to JAMA’s estimate. Domestic production of passenger cars rose 3.3 percent to 7.86 million units, the first increase since 1990, while that of buses rose 12.4 percent to 53,126. In terms of companies, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp. and Daihatsu Motor Co. posted increases in their domestic production. The other seven automakers marked declines.