By on January 29, 2010

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association today officially conceded defeat and yielded the title “world’s top automobile manufacturer in 2009” to China, reports the Nikkei [sub]. The world had known for quite some time that China made more than 13m cars in 2009, and that Japanese production was a mere shadow of its former self. But it needs some time to sink in and to make it official.

Note: All that follows are production data, as opposed to sales data. In China, production data nearly equal sales data. Couldn’t be more different than in Japan. Here, usually twice as many cars are made than sold. Half of the Made in Japan cars are exported. Usually. Let’s see what happened this time.

Production in China skyrocketed by 48.3 percent to about 13.79m vehicles last year. China takes the top spot as the world’s #1 car country, both in production and in sales.

In Japan, production plunged by 31.5 percent  to 7.93m units. Japan held the title “No. 1 auto-producing nation” for three years since 2006, when it unseated the U.S. Now, Japan is in the #2 spot with no chance to catch up with its bitter rival anytime soon.

Battered U.S.A. managed a podium finish. 5.7m units produced in the U.S. put the country way down into third place. Imagine: Last year, the American car output was less than half of China’s.

For the first time in 33 years, Japan’s domestic production dropped below 8 million units. The weakness was mainly in exports. Exports evaporated by 46.2 percent to just 3.61m, the first annual decline in eight years. Domestic consumption sunk by comparatively benign 9.3 percent to 4.6 million units.

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5 Comments on “Japan Surrenders. To China, This Time Around...”

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Take a lesson here, Japan. Don’t chase the title of being number one, let China have it. Just concentrate on building good quality cars. That counts more than an arbitrary title.

  • avatar

    Considering I hold shares in Ford and not in toyota… I just hope the destruction of Toyota increases my own portfolio.

  • avatar
    Garrick Jannene

    I’d like to see a comparison involving the total value of vehicles produced. It’s my understanding that the average transaction price for a new car is much lower than in the developed world. Does anybody have numbers on this?

  • avatar

    Garrick: This “Transaction price” argument comes up each time these data are published.

    1.) Nobody keeps reliably track of transaction prices throughout the world. ATP is an American thing. Even in Europe, the question generally causes head scratching
    2.) If the world would keep track of transaction prices, the discussion would then morph into forex manipulation and purchasing power
    2.) Like it or not, the metric in the industry is cars sold. Or, in the lingo “units.” Which should give you an indication what the industry uses as a yardstick.

    As far as China goes, I can assure you that everything is on the road, from QQs to Rollers.

  • avatar

    More of the cost of a cheap car is within the car company so numbers sold is a better number than ATP

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