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Toyota Motor Corp. will raise the retail prices of some of its exported vehicles as early as this year due to declining profitability amid the yen’s continued strength, according to company sources.

By reducing costs and increasing production abroad at the same time, Toyota will aim to improve its profitability and make its business less susceptible to exchange rate fluctuations, the sources said Thursday.

While the automaker has yet to decide on the size of the price increases and which vehicles will be affected, the price changes will be restricted to competitive models to minimize the decline in sales volume, they said.

With regard to the Japanese market, prices will be raised only as models are updated, the sources said. Domestic sales are expected to shrink with the looming end of the government’s subsidy program for energy-efficient cars.

Toyota reported an unconsolidated operating loss in the business year that ended in March, posting red ink for the fourth straight year.

Though it turned to the black in the April-June quarter, it is forecasting a loss of ¥70 billion for the full year to next March.

The automaker plans to export 1.95 million vehicles in the current business year, with 730,000 destined for North America, 370,000 for Europe and 290,000 for the Middle East. Its domestic production target for the business year is 3.4 million vehicles.

In August, the company revised its assumed exchange rate to ¥101 to the euro from ¥105, while maintaining it at ¥80 to the dollar.

Nissan X-Trail recall

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. told the transport ministry Thursday it will recall 17,861 X-Trail sport utility vehicles with diesel turbo engines partly to repair an improperly attached engine component.

Subject to the recall are models made between August 2008 and July 2012, according to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.

The defect concerns sound-insulation in the engine area that may catch fire due to engine heat because it was improperly attached, the ministry said.

The ministry said 52 cases of trouble linked to the defect have been reported since April 2009.

Nissan naming rights

YOKOHAMA
Kyodo

The Yokohama Municipal Government and Nissan Motor Co. will sign a contract to extend the company’s naming rights for what was originally International Stadium Yokohama, home of the Yokohama F. Marinos professional soccer team, Yokohama officials said Thursday.

Under the contract, the automaker will retain the rights to name 72,327-seat Nissan Stadium, as well as another sports arena and a swimming pool on the same grounds, through the end of February 2016, the officials said.

The city government expects to rake in combined revenue of ¥450 million in the three-year period, which will start March 1, they said.

The current three-year contract expires Feb. 28. Nissan bought five years’ worth of naming rights for ¥470 million per year in 2005.

In 2010, Nissan renewed the contract for three years for ¥150 million annually after Yokohama agreed to give the automaker a discount.

Suzuki’s 20 millionth

Kyodo

Suzuki Motor Corp. said Thursday that its cumulative domestic minivehicle sales had eclipsed 20 million units as of Wednesday, making it the first carmaker to clear the mark.

It has been 56 years and 11 months since Suzuki took the wraps off its first minicar, the Suzulite, in 1955, the Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture-based firm said. Its best-selling minicar is the Alto, which was first released in 1979, a year after President Osamu Suzuki took the helm. Some 5.19 million altos have been sold, it said.

The initial Alto model became a megahit at the suggested retail price of ¥470,000 for providing what industry watchers called “revolutionary” affordability at the time.

Minicars have engines no larger than 660cc.

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