Long time depressed car production in Japan continues to show robust signs of life, mostly caused by equally surprising domestic demand and a pick-up in exports. And there is another explanation …
Nissan’s domestic output climbed a whopping 83.1 percent year on year to 86,938 units in January, the third straight month of increase. Exports rose 29.6 percent to 35,737 units. Domestic sales rose 17.5 percent to 49,096 units. Overseas output doubled to 199,048 units, says the The Nikkei [sub].
Honda’s Japanese production rose from its deathbed by 0.2 percent. 77,384 units were made in January in Japan, the first rise in 15 months. Bad news for Honda’s exports: Down for the 16th straight month by 48.4 percent. Honda’s domestic sales were up 40 percent, the seventh straight month of expansion. 213,368 cars were made overseas, up 42.9 percent, The Nikkei [sub] reports.
Mitsubishi’s domestic production in Japan jumped 84 percent on the year to 46,714 units in January. Exports surged 140 percent to 31,464 units. Domestic sales rose 18.7 percent to 11,466 units. Overseas output grew 55.9 percent to 43,566 units, writes The Nikkei [sub].
And what about Toyota? Toyota increased its Japanese production in January by 28.5 percent to 268,888 vehicles, “suggesting the full impact of the company’s massive recall had yet to take hold during the month,” The Nikkei [sub] opines. Overseas output ascended 83.8 percent to a record high for the month of 375,037 vehicles. U.S. output was catapulted up by 156.7 percent to 98,000 vehicles in January.
And here comes the explanation for the glad tidings. Says the Nikkei: “A Toyota spokeswoman attributed the increased production figure to a low basis of comparison with the year-earlier month, when the company was still adjusting to a slump in demand in the wake of the demise of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent economic slowdown.” Anything is better than the darkest months of carmageddon. Asked about Toyota’s troubles, the spokestress said “it is hard to gauge the extent of the impact on the monthly data from the high profile recall, but there appears to be no negative impact reflected in the production data.”
Let’s wait for the sales data for February, and the months thereafter. Japan, Europe and the rest of the world are, for the most part, blasé when it comes to Toyota’s recalls. The (back page) media focus abroad is on the Washington circus, with occasional mentions of “witch hunt” sprinkled in.