Nissan Motor Co. will halt operations in July at one of the two production lines at its main plant in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, cutting back its annual domestic production capacity by 15 percent to 1.15 million vehicles, company sources said Thursday.
Shrinking export profits due to the yen’s appreciation as well as a sluggish domestic market have led major automakers to scale down production in Japan. Toyota Motor Corp. plans to gradually reduce its annual manufacturing capacity by 400,000 vehicles to 3.2 million units.
It will be the first time for Nissan to trim domestic capacity since closing a plant in Musashimurayama, Tokyo, in 2001 after Carlos Ghosn took the helm.
The Oppama plant in Yokosuka has an annual production capacity of 430,000 vehicles, and produces models including the Note and Cube compacts. The company will not decommission the line to be halted, leaving open the possibility of resuming production. The workforce at the plant will not be reduced or transferred, the sources said.
In place of the Oppama plant, a plant at subsidiary Nissan Motor Kyushu Co. in Fukuoka Prefecture will become its main production site, where it will produce the new generation of Note compacts to be launched this autumn.
Nissan also plans to move production of the next-generation Tiida Latio to Thailand and import them to Japan. While keeping exports from Japan at a minimal level, Nissan will expand overseas output with plans to build new plants in emerging economies, including Mexico and Brazil.
Despite these developments, Nissan will maintain its domestic capacity of 1 million units, as announced by Ghosn.
Lexus still No. 1 in U.S.
Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus luxury brand stayed at the top in overall new car quality rankings in the United States for the second consecutive year, J.D. Power and Associates said.
According to the 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study by the research firm, Toyota vehicles captured the top position in five of the 21 segments. Of them, the Corolla ranked No. 1 in the subcompact category and the Lexus LS was the highest-ranked large premium car.
The results showed that U.S. drivers’ trust in Toyota vehicles is recovering after the automaker’s massive recalls in 2009 and 2010.
Britain’s Jaguar and Germany’s Porsche shared second in the overall rankings, while Honda Motor Co. fell from second to fifth.