Japan’s largest and second largest automakers are worlds apart. Last year, Nissan made less than half of the cars the world’s number one, Toyota produced. Looking at the February results of both, we see a Goliath that is slowing down and a David that is revving up mightily. What’s more, we see a Goliath that is heavily exposed to the destruction in Japan, and a David that had moved most of his production abroad, well before the Flood. Let’s compare David and Goliath.
This comparison is based on February 2011 production and sales data emailed to TTAC today by Toyota and Nissan. The Toyota press release is available here. The Nissan press release is available here. For Toyota, we will be using the Toyota Motor Corp group data, including Daihatsu and Hino. If no time period is given, the data refer to February 2011. A month does not a year make. However, this February probably was the last “normal” month you will see in the Japanese car industry for a while. Let’s see how the two embark on the road to the great unknown.
In February, Toyota’s worldwide production fell 2.5 percent to 761,248 units. Nissan’s global production increased 21.7 percent to 350,093 units, an all-time record for the month of February.
Japanese production was down for both, reflecting the double-digit contraction of the Japanese domestic market. Toyota’s Japanese production dropped 7.4 percent to 349,900 units. Nissan’s production in Japan decreased 3.8 percent to 93,432 units.
Exports from Japan rose 5.3 percent to 170,075 units for Toyota, first increase in two months . Nissan’s exports in February increased 7.8 percent to 54,215 units. Nissan’s exports to North America increased 41.5 percent, to Europe 51.8 percent.
Here is probably the most important metric at the moment and in the following months when all manufacturers, and especially the Japanese are trying to come to grips with the disaster in Miyagi:
Toyota has 49 percent of its global production of 716,248 units in Japan, 51 percent of the production is overseas. Nissan has 27 percent of its global production of 350,093 units in Japan, 73 percent is overseas. Neither of them will escape the Japanese parts paralysis unscathed. At least on a spreadsheet, Nissan is in a better position that its Goliath rival. As always, the devil is in the details.