Three of Japan’s five major automakers registered domestic sales expansions in April thanks to new models, according to data released Thursday.

Toyota Motor Corp. saw local sales edge up 0.7 percent from a year earlier to 120,182 vehicles, the first rise in two months, while Nissan Motor Co. sales gained 1.2 percent to 46,368 for the fifth straight month of increase. Honda Motor Co.’s sales in Japan expanded for the 17th consecutive month, rising 13.7 percent to 62,787.

Meanwhile, sales by Mazda Motor Corp. fell for the eighth straight month, slipping 8.2 percent to 19,057 vehicles, while Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s sales were down 20.6 percent to 29,337 for the ninth consecutive month of decline.

On domestic production, Honda marked its fifth straight month of gains, growing 2.4 percent to 104,759, while Mazda posted the first gain in eight months, rising 2.9 percent to 63,594.

The other three automakers marked year-on-year falls. Toyota’s production fell for the second straight month, down 2.9 percent to 258,102 vehicles, and Nissan saw output drop 10.9 percent to 95,037 for the fourth consecutive month of contraction. Mitsubishi turned out 55,073 vehicles, down 21.6 percent for the fifth straight month of fall.

For exports, Mazda was the only automaker to post a gain. Its exports turned upward for the first time in three months, climbing 6.3 percent to 42,265.

Exports by Toyota fell 14.8 percent to 139,195, the first downturn in two months, while those by Nissan also dived for the first time in two months, falling 29 percent to 41,970.

Honda’s exports slipped 28.5 percent to 39,819 vehicles for the ninth consecutive month of fall, while those by Mitsubishi fell for the fourth straight month, dropping 4.8 percent to 27,479.

Hino records net loss

Hino Motors Ltd. said Thursday it remained in the red in fiscal 2000, with a group net loss of 13.30 billion yen after the previous year’s 21.84 billion yen, due to an extraordinary loss connected to the write-off of retirement and pension-related liabilities.

But the company chalked up a group pretax profit of 3.06 billion yen, staging a turnaround from the previous year’s 25.69 billion yen loss, thanks to aggressive cost cuts.

The major truck manufacturer, an affiliate of Toyota Motor Corp., said its group sales rose 7.8 percent to 704 billion yen as demand for its trucks and buses was firm at home and abroad.

As in the previous year, the company will pay no dividend for the 12 months to March 31.

On an unconsolidated basis, Hino Motors posted a net profit of 8.59 billion yen in fiscal 2000, a reversal from the previous year’s loss of 15.42 billion yen, and a pretax profit of 10.38 billion yen, compared to the 15.76 billion yen loss in 1999, on sales of 520.34 billion yen, up 9.7 percent.

For this business year, the company forecasts a group net profit of 24.5 billion yen and a pretax profit of 12 billion yen on group sales of 747 billion yen.

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