Toyota To Lift U.S. Car Exports To Korea By 30 Percent

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.”

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • GS650G GS650G on Sep 26, 2011

    Those nice tall models make it seem the two dudes are standing in a hole.

  • Banger Banger on Sep 26, 2011

    Well, hurrah for American exports. I'd like to see us on parity with the amount of imports we get from South Korea, but hey, this is a start.

    • See 5 previous
    • Eldard Eldard on Oct 06, 2011

      No one in their right minds outside of China/USA would buy a GM car, though.

  • Mfgreen40 Mfgreen40 on Sep 26, 2011

    The guy on the left is not comfortable with the girl sooo close.

  • Acuraandy Acuraandy on Sep 26, 2011

    Not to discount macro-economics, but... How the hell does this make sense? Isn't the west coast of Japan only like 100mi from S Korea? And somehow it would be CHEAPER to import from Kentucky, despite near record oil prices? Simply due to tariffs? If that is the case, Japan needs to do something about the 'rising' Yen, AND/OR, the US needs to back up the Dollar with something tangible, like, oh I don't know...GOLD?! P.S. Good for the US, although I don't think all the robots working in the Kentucky plant will exactly be having beers over the news. Unless they are Bender from the show Futurama...

    • Mr_min Mr_min on Sep 27, 2011

      One of the ways that it makes sense, is to envisage a boat load of cars coming from Korean to USA. How does the boat go back? Empty or partially full. The cost of fuel between empty and partially full is very little. Mind you, if USA doesn't lock down a FTA, then Australia will have its FTA up and running, and they make LHD Camrys also.. Lots of empty boats going from Australia to Korea!! Oh forgot to add, yes Tariff make a big difference for some countries. Might make a nice article to compare tariffs around the globe