• The Associated Press


Japan’s top three automakers — Toyota, Nissan and Honda — boosted global output in January due to strong sales in overseas and domestic markets, but Mazda and Mitsubishi Motors trimmed production, the companies said Thursday.

Toyota Motor Corp., the country’s largest automaker, said global production rose 4.9 percent in January from the same month last year to 555,319 vehicles. That includes a 9.5 percent increase in overseas output to 257,110 vehicles, a record-high for January.

It was the 37th straight month of gains in overseas output for Toyota, prompted mainly by increased production in North America and Asia. Toyota’s production in Japan inched up on-year 1.2 percent to 298,209 vehicles during the month.

Nissan Motor Co., the Tokyo-based partner of France’s Renault SA, said its worldwide production surged 17.2 percent to 292,254 vehicles last month, with its U.S. output registering a 30.3 percent leap over a year earlier to 73,441 vehicles.

Among the most popular American-made models were the Altima sedan, the new Frontier and the Pathfinder sport-utility vehicles. Nissan’s domestic production rose 20.0 percent to 136,276 vehicles, lifted by brisk sales of new models.

At Honda Motor Co., worldwide production rose 12.3 percent to 270,438 vehicles in January — a record high for a single month. Honda’s overseas production rose 9.6 percent to 164,409 vehicles, marking the 12th consecutive month of increases.

Honda’s production in Asia, excluding Japan, saw a 32.2 percent surge in production in January. Domestic output climbed 16.6 percent to 106,029 vehicles, while Honda’s production in the United States gained 10.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Mazda Motor Corp. said global production fell 18.2 percent to 73,936 vehicles. Domestic production for the Hiroshima-based manufacturer was down 19.2 percent to 53,286 vehicles. Mazda’s overseas production also fell 15.5 percent to 20,650 vehicles.

Yuji Kato, a Mazda spokesman, said the production loss from a December fire at a plant in Hiroshima continued to hurt parts supplies, forcing a curb in output.

Toyota ups U.S. lobby

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. will boost the staff at its Washington office in an attempt to increase its influence on the U.S. government and auto industry, according to company officials.

The plan is aimed at preventing the rekindling of a trade conflict in the U.S. market, where the share of Japanese vehicles is on a rise.

Currently, Toyota’s Washington office employs about 35 workers, mostly U.S. staff who have experience in U.S. government offices or Congress, as well as lobbyists registered with Congress.

Under the plan, Japan’s largest automaker is expected to double the number of workers over several years, making Toyota’s Washington office the largest among Japanese companies, sources said.

In a bid to deepen its contacts with people related to Congress and to strengthen its cooperative ties with U.S. business groups, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Toyota will relocate the office — possibly this year — to near Capitol Hill and the White House, the sources said.

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