Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. increased global vehicle production in the first half of fiscal 2003 to meet growing overseas demand.

Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. meanwhile decreased their worldwide output during the April-September period, the carmakers said Friday.

Toyota, Japan’s largest carmaker, manufactured 2.98 million vehicles worldwide, up 7.8 percent from the previous year. Its overseas output grew 19.2 percent to 1.3 million units and domestic output rose 0.4 percent to 1.68 million units.

Nissan’s global production rose 8.3 percent to 1.47 million vehicles in the fiscal first half, up for the fourth straight year. The carmaker made 724,583 units in Japan, up 6.3 percent, and 743,168 units overseas, up 10.3 percent.

This is the first time that Nissan’s overseas output surpassed its domestic production during the six-month period, company officials said.

Mazda’s worldwide production jumped 7.2 percent to 512,922 vehicles, backed by increased output of the Atenza sedan in China and the United States, a company official said.

Honda’s global production meanwhile slipped 1.4 percent to 1.44 million units, the first decrease in five years. The firm attributed the disappointing result to its sluggish domestic sales, which plunged 24.7 percent to 330,430 units.

MMC’s worldwide output fell 6.4 percent to 779,387 vehicles, the first decrease in two years, due to bleak sales in North America, a company official said.

Hybrid success story

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japanese hybrid cars occupied seven of the top-10 places in the fuel-efficiency rankings for the 2004 model year that were issued Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The manual transmission version of Honda Motor Co.’s Insight topped the agency’s annual Fuel Economy Guide for the second straight year, getting 60 miles per gallon (about 25.5 km per liter) in the city. It marked 66 miles per gallon on the highway.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius came second with 59 mpg in the city, followed by the automatic version of the Insight with 57 mpg. Four different versions of Honda’s Civic Hybrid placed in fourth to seventh spots.

Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a self-charging electric motor.

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