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Ford Finally Gaining Ground in China

But Japanese makers; GM also picking up momentum.

by on Feb.11, 2013

Ford CEO Alan Mulally sees China a key target for the maker which got off to a late start in the market.

A latecomer to the massive and growing Chinese automotive market, Ford China is reporting its best-ever January, selling more than double the number of passenger cars it did in January 2012.

In all Ford sold 44,439 passenger cars—including imported vehicles—last month, a 135% increase year-over-year, and achieved combined passenger car and commercial vehicle sales of 61,475 wholesale vehicles, a 98% increase from January 2012 that helped Ford pick up market share.

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“We’re ending the year of the dragon with pride in having served more customers in China than ever before,” said John Lawler, Chairman and CEO of Ford China. The annual Lunar New Year celebration is now underway across China.


Detroit Makers Win Big as Toyota, Honda, Nissan Hit by Chinese Boycott

Japanese curb expectations for the near-term in China.

by on Nov.08, 2012

A Toyota dealership in Qingdao was burned by protestors in a dispute over an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.

What’s bad news for the Japanese is turning into a hugely positive development for Detroit and European automakers.  General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG all stand to benefit as Japanese automakers are forced to cut back on their sales and marketing efforts in the critical China market because of a political dispute over some nearly submerged islands in the East China Sea.

While Japan’s three largest automakers reported significant increases in earnings over the past weeks, they’ve also downgraded forecasts for the months ahead, and while a variety of headwinds face them, China is at the top of the list.

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“An ongoing fall in sales in China will directly influence our financial report for the second half” of the 2012 fiscal year which ends next March 31st, Nissan Motor Co. Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga acknowledged this week.


Honda to Cut Japan Exports in Half

Strong yen, potential disasters lead Japanese makers to shift more production abroad.

by on Oct.06, 2011

Honda expects to shift all but a small amount of production out of Japan over the next decade.

Honda will halve, perhaps cut by two-thirds the number of vehicles it exports out of Japan over the next decade, according to the maker’s CEO.

The move follows reports that Toyota, the industry giant, will shift production of more of its Camry models to the United States.  Other Japanese makers are reported to be considering production shifts out of their home market, as well.

Toyota Chief Executive Takanobu Ito told the Asahi newspaper that the decision was made in responsive to the fast rising yen, which recently hit a record level against the dollar.  But industry analysts say that Japanese leaders have also been exploring their production options in the wake of the devastating March earthquake and tsunami that sharply curbed automotive production for the following six months.

Like its rivals, Honda has steadily expanded its production base in North America, Europe and other parts of the world and is putting a premium on building its base now in China and other emerging markets.  Of its total global output of 3.57 million vehicles during the last fiscal year, only 910,000 – about 34% — were produced in Japan.

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But Ito said that could drop to as little as 10 to 20% in 10 years.  And even maintaining that level will require the maker to shift the production base in Japan to focus on the minicar segment – those with engines under 660 ccs.  Because of rising fuel prices and tax incentives, that market niche is one of the few bright spots in the long-stagnant Japanese automotive market.


Toyota May Shift More Camry Production from Japan to U.S.

American plant would serve as export base to Korea.

by on Oct.05, 2011

Toyota is likely to shift more Camry production out of Japan to the U.S.

Plagued by a strong yen that is making it increasingly difficult to produce cars in the home market, Japanese giant Toyota Motor Co. may shift production of more of its popular Camry sedans to the U.S.

Toyota plants in North America already provide the majority of the vehicles the maker sells in the U.S. and Canada, notably including the 25-year-old Camry factory in Georgetown, Kentucky.  But, according to the Nikkei business daily, such a move – not yet confirmed by Toyota – would be used to supply the Camry to South Korean Toyota dealers.

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Japanese makers, in general, have been struggling to deal with production at home with exchange rates slashing their profitability.  Makers like Toyota had, until recently, been hoping the yen would stabilize at or just above 80 to the dollar, but in recent weeks it has soared to a record high of 75.94.

That is making it increasingly unprofitable to ship vehicles not only to the States but to other countries that tend to peg their own currencies to the American dollar.


Toyota To Shift Camry Production to U.S.

Maker will end imports from Japan.

by on Sep.07, 2011

Going foward, Toyota plants in the U.S. will supply all Camry sedans sold in North America.

As part of a strategy to give the North American market as much autonomy as possible, Toyota will soon cease importing Camry sedans from Japan, relying solely on two U.S. plants to provide more than a third of a million copies of the midsize model annually.

The move roughly coincides with the upcoming launch of the 2012 Toyota Camry.  Though it is only one of about 10 new products the maker is launching in the months ahead the remake may be considered both the most important and the most challenging.

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The Camry has long dominated the American sales charts, grabbing the top spot among passenger cars for the last 9 years running and 13 of the last 14 years.  But in recent months, as Toyota – like many of its Japanese rivals – has struggled with product shortages triggered by that country’s devastating March earthquake and tsunami – the Camry has fallen behind the Chevrolet Cruze and will have a battle ahead to hold onto its crown for all of 2011.

The shift to a fully U.S. production base comes as Toyota’s North American operations gain increasing autonomy.  But the move also reflects the devastating impact of the strong yen, which has slashed Toyota’s profit margins.


Toyota Warns It May Have To Move Production Out Of Japan.

Full-year earnings up, but exchange rate, recalls likely to yield 2nd-half plunge.

by on Nov.05, 2010

It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep building vehicles, like the Prius, in Japan, warns Toyota.

Toyota Motor Co. did markedly better during the first half of its fiscal year, a senior company official disclosed Friday, but while strong sales in key markets, such as Asia will help it deliver better earnings than expected for the current year, the rising value of the yen and its ongoing recall problems will result in a plunge in earnings during the second half of 2010.

Income for the full fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2011, is now expected to rise to 350 billion yen ($4.31 billion), up from an earlier forecast of 340 billion yen.

That projected improvement comes “despite the influence of the strong yen,” which has been a serious problem for the maker in dealing with its largest foreign market, the United States, said Toyota Managing Officer Takuo Sasaki, speaking through an interpreter, during a teleconference to discuss the company’s latest quarterly earnings.

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Looking ahead, Toyota now anticipates an exchange rate of 85 yen to the dollar, down from an earlier forecast of 90.  But on November 1, the exchange rate fell to its lowest level in more than 15 years, the yen plunging to 80.22 against the dollar.

“If we assume the (exchange rate) remains at 80 yen to the dollar, the environment will be extremely tough,” cautioned Sasaki, and would raise questions about how long the company can continue producing vehicles in Japan.