• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday its global production in September hit a record high amid strong demand from China, indicating a recovery from the sales slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The global output of 841,915 vehicles for September, up 11.7% from a year earlier, also marked the first year-on-year increase in nine months.

Led by a 48.5% jump in China, the production figure was the highest on record for September, according to the major automaker.

Toyota’s global sales also increased 1.9% to 837,049 units propelled by high demand in China, the world’s largest auto market, as well as the popularity of new models.

The company’s global output has been gradually trending towards a recovery after tumbling 54.4% in May amid the COVID-19 crisis. It reported a 6.7% fall in August and a 10.2% drop in July.

“It is hard to predict whether we will continue to recover or see impacts of the novel coronavirus again,” a Toyota official said.

In September, the carmaker’s overseas output increased 16.3% to 536,287 units, with production up 19.9% in Europe and 8.3% in North America.

Domestic production rose 4.5% to 305,628 vehicles, thanks to the popularity of the Harrier SUV and the Yaris compact.

In the April to September period, Toyota logged a 23.1% decline in global production from a year earlier to 3,501,041 units due to the pandemic.

Sales dropped 19.0% to 4,011,479 vehicles during the six-month period.

Meanwhile, Toyota is also stepping up efforts to develop batteries for electric vehicles, as the government aims to expand the use of EVs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Government sources said Thursday that the industry ministry will include the support for battery development in an action plan it aims to compile at the end of this year, following Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s pledge Monday to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Japan to net zero by 2050.

Batteries take up around 30% of costs to develop an electric car and directly influence the performance of the vehicle.

Toyota and Panasonic Corp. have tied up in manufacturing and selling batteries for EVs, while Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are also jointly developing batteries and battery components for their vehicles.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will push the technological development of solid-state batteries, which are believed to help improve the driving range of EVs and charge quicker than existing lithium-ion batteries.

It will also strengthen efforts to ensure the supply of rare metals and other key materials used in making the batteries, the sources said.

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