This must be the oddest story of the day: According to conventional wisdom, the South Korean market is pretty much closed to American cars. “Not so,” says a company that makes a lot of cars in the U.S. The odd part: The company is Japanese. It’s Toyota. If The Nikkei [sub] has its facts and sources together, then Toyota will export Kentucky-made Camrys to South Korea.
According to The Nikkei, “the yen’s historic rise is causing Toyota foreign exchange losses on exports from Japan.” That we can believe without checking. The Nikkei also heard that “Toyota believes it would be less costly to export from the U.S. if a free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea is ratified that would eliminate tariffs between the two nations.”
That free trade agreement had been hammered-out last year, but it has yet to be ratified. If the pact gets the nod, then Toyota could ship the 5,000 Camrys it sold in South Korea in 2010 from Kentucky instead from Aichi. According to The Nikkei, it will be cheaper.
There are all kinds of car export numbers floating around on the internet, most of them wrong. The authoritative number comes from the U.S. Commerce Department which says that in 2010, 16,659 vehicles were exported from the U.S. to South Korea. Toyota could lift that number single-handedly above 20,000.
PS: Official comment from Toyota: “As this concerns future product plans,we would like to refrain from commenting.”