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Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. posted increases in domestic auto sales in May, while the three other major Japanese automakers saw their sales slip, according to data released Friday by the carmakers.

Honda sold 65,809 vehicles in May, up 18.2 percent from a year earlier, as its Fit subcompact car continued to sell well.

Nissan said its domestic sales rose 16.1 percent to 59,505 units in May, up for the second consecutive month, due mainly to strong sales of its new March model, another subcompact.

But industry leader Toyota Motor Corp. suffered a 3.7 percent drop in domestic sales to 122,348 vehicles in May, its ninth straight month of decline.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. reported a 10.1 percent sales decline to 26,056 vehicles, while sales at Mazda Motor Corp. fell 16.1 percent to 19,518.

On the output front, all five automakers except Mazda increased domestic production in May.

Nissan’s production increased for the third straight month to 108,178 vehicles, up 16.5 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Honda built 109,606 vehicles, up 15.9 percent, for the ninth consecutive monthly increase. Mitsubishi produced 55,530, up 11.9 percent, while Toyota turned out 281,795 vehicles, up 9.9 percent, for the second consecutive monthly rise.

But domestic output by Mazda edged down 0.9 percent to 60,381 vehicles.

All five automakers boosted overseas production, with Mazda reporting the largest percentage gain of 33.2 percent to 14,575 units. Overseas production rose 16.5 percent to 83,721 at Mitsubishi, 15.8 percent to 190,923 at Toyota, 11.7 percent to 134,996 at Honda and 11.3 percent to 120,842 at Nissan.

Exports increased sharply at all five companies in May. Exports rose a hefty 61.4 percent to 26,799 vehicles at Mitsubishi, 44.7 percent to 38,655 at Honda, 41 percent to 47,404 at Nissan, 17.6 percent to 42,333 at Mazda and 16 percent to 142,088 at Toyota.

China production

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. will begin producing a small car series in Tianjin, China, as part of a joint venture with China FAW Group Corp., company officials said Friday.

The popular Corolla model is a prime candidate for the joint project, which may begin in 2005, the officials said.

Annual output is targeted at 50,000.

Earlier, Toyota announced plans to manufacture two other cars in China.

In Changchun, the company plans to produce a luxury car based on the Crown model beginning in 2005. The project will be part of a wide-ranging alliance with FAW.

In October, Toyota hopes to begin producing a compact car based on its Vitz model in a joint venture with Tianjin Automotive Industry Corp. FAW, China’s biggest carmaker, recently acquired Tianjin Automotive.

Toyota’s ramped-up production strategy for China has apparently been spurred by FAW’s acquisition of Tianjin Automotive — Toyota’s major partner in China.

Toyota is also trying to boost production of sport utility vehicles in China.

The company plans to begin producing an SUV model next year at Sichuan Toyota Motor Co., a joint venture it launched with local automaker Sichuan Station Wagon Factory.

Toyota will also produce a large four-wheel-drive vehicle in a joint venture with FAW.

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