Automakers up output to meet U.S., Asia demand


Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. boosted their global output in August to meet strong demand in the U.S. and Asian markets.

Toyota increased global production 7.8 percent to 670,838 vehicles, and Honda’s output rose 8.4 percent to 311,117 vehicles, the companies said in separate statements Thursday. Nissan raised production 17 percent to 267,390 vehicles.

Rising sales of fuel-efficient vehicles, such as Toyota’s Corolla and Honda’s Accord, are driving the production growth. Output at home also increased as some automakers made up for losses from the July 16 earthquake in Niigata Prefecture.

“August is usually a short production month because of the summer vacation,” said Koji Endo, senior analyst at Credit Suisse Group in Tokyo. “Workers probably gave up a few days” to recoup lost ground after the quake affected output at a supplier’s factories.

Production also rose because passenger vehicle sales in Japan were up for the first time in 26 months in August, as carmakers introduced redesigned models. Toyota introduced a new version of the ist compact on July 30, and Nissan introduced a redesigned X-Trail sport utility vehicle on Aug. 22.

Higher sales of Honda’s fuel-efficient vehicles, such as the Fit compact and the CR-V small SUV, helped drive the Tokyo-based carmaker’s growth. The company, which exports the Fit and CR-V to the U.S. from Japan, increased shipments to North America 41 percent last month due to record sales there.

“Honda is doing very well in the U.S., its most profitable market,” said Hirofumi Yokoi, an analyst at CSM Worldwide in Tokyo. “The carmaker’s core models are showing strong growth in India and China.”

Domestic production at Honda climbed to 96,415, and overseas output gained 9.1 percent to 214,702 vehicles. Honda sold 158,342 new vehicles in the U.S. in August, a record for a single month. The 4.7 percent increase was led by the Fit, the midsize Accord and the CR-V.

Honda can’t meet North American demand for CR-Vs with its factory in Ohio, forcing it to export from Japan. The company also began making CR-Vs at its plant in Mexico at the end of August, and plans to build 50,000 vehicles a year, it announced in March.

Output at Suzuki Motor Corp. jumped 22 percent as the automaker built more vehicles in India and Hungary. Suzuki built 199,142 vehicles last month. The company is increasing production in Japan, India and Hungary after introducing the SX4 and other new models.

In contrast, Mazda Motor Corp. trimmed production for a seventh straight month.