By on August 29, 2012

Japan’s automakers released global production and sales data for July today. It is an ancient Japanese tradition, which is also shared by large European carmakers, but shunned by most American globals. GM for instance reports only quarterly on a global basis, and keeps observers guessing in between. July data released by Japanese large automakers shows a strong rebound after last year’s multiple disasters. Honda looks especially strong, while Toyota’s march towards regaining the title “World’s largest automaker 2012” appears unstoppable.

Global Production Top Three Japan, July 2012
July ’12 July’11 YoY 7M ’12 7M ’11 YoY
Toyota 878,324 678,916 29.4% 6,126,101 4,054,608 51.1%
Nissan 408,309
5.1% 2,961,528 2,533,424 16.9%
206,727 67.0%
1,509,442 66.2%
Source: Company data

Japan’s Top Three continue their strong recovery after last year’s tsunami. Hardest hit Honda is back very strong and is in shouting distance of Nissan. What makes Honda’s numbers especially impressive is the fact that its Thai hub was submerged by floods and closed until March of this year. Nissan’s numbers look  weak  because Nissan was least affected by the tsunami.

Top 3 World, July Production and Full Year Forecast
7M ’12 7M ’11 YoY Proj ’12
Toyota 6,126,101 4,054,608 51.1% 10,502,000
GM 5,619,000 5,515,000 1.9% 9,633,000
Volkswagen 5,190,000 4,750,000 9.3% 8,897,000
Black: Company data. Blue: Projection, based on last available
Toyota, GM: Production. VW: Deliveries. Forecast by TTAC

Tracking the race for world’s largest automaker, there is little change from last month. January through July, Toyota is half a million units ahead of number two which is some 400,000 units ahead of Volkswagen. This trend has been unchanged throughout the year . It most likely won’t change by year’s end – unless something drastic happens. Due to the non-publishing of GM numbers, they had to be projected for July.

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33 Comments on “Japan’s Automakers Continue Rebound, Toyota Unstoppable...”

  • avatar

    The car is officially dead.

    Consumers want a motorized appliance in shades of gold, grey, or white with a beige, black or grey interior and some computer screens here or there. There are options, but really there are just dealer packages. You can choose from several sizes of boring sedans or boring crossovers.

    How do they drive? They start, stop, and have four wheels and tires. You can have any transmission as long as it’s AT.

    They should sell them in Lowe’s or Home Depot next to the lawnmowers.

    I’m sure the cabins are so quiet you can feel your soul being sucked every time you drive one.

    • 0 avatar

      Cars have been appliances for decades now. Nothing new there. A lot of the interesting cars of the past were interesting because they were built so poorly that it was an adventure to drive them. And building cars is now so damn expensive, that no company can survive by just building “quirky” products or even having more than 1 or 2 in their line-up. There is just too much to lose.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not inasmuch as quirkiness, but cars being engineered to be so boring, bland, unassuming, generic, and forgettable that you can’t tell brands apart (except maybe for garish corporate grilles). You don’t even want to believe the BS about “fun to drive.”

        I’d just say forego with the names.

        Carmakers can sell their cars in S, M, or L and sedan or crossover varieties.

        You can go to Home Depot and request a refrigerator white Honda Crossover in M and know exactly what you’re getting instead of having to bother with model names and the pretense.

      • 0 avatar

        “It’s not inasmuch as quirkiness, but cars being engineered to be so boring, bland, unassuming, generic, and forgettable that you can’t tell brands apart”

        And like I already mnentioned, cars are boring, bland, unassuming, generic and forgetable, because they’re so damn reliable nowadys. Automakers have a found a process that works and they aren’t going to try anything different because there is so much money at stake. For commuting anyway, the vast majority of people will take a boring car that can be trusted over an exciting car that can’t. Back in the 80’s a friend of my father’s owned two early 70’s Alfa spyders. One to drive and the other for parts. Fun car, but very unreliable and you’d have to be crazy to use it as a commuter vehicle. Since the majority of cars are sold for travel and not fun, bland is in.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll bet you a few FJ40 owners said the same thing when the comparatively plush, civilized FJ60 was launched!

      Here were the 1980 FJ60’s available colors:
      White, Silver, Gray, Gray-Blue, Red, Beige, Sky Blue, Cognac, Brown, Rootbeer.

      And here are the 2012 Camry’s available colors:
      White, Silver, Gray, Gray-Blue, Red, Beige, Sky Blue, Black, Gray-Green.

      Personally, I was surprised how similar the palettes are, considering they’re separated by 32 years!

    • 0 avatar

      FJ60LandCruiser: “The car is officially dead.”

      1) Re the appliance notion, Henry Ford is the one to blame.
      2) Your news is about 100 years late.

    • 0 avatar

      People keep saying that- but it’s just not true. Cars have not turned into appliance by any means. They remain what they are, and have always been- status symbols.

      All that guff about ‘fun to drive’ is just marketing pap. Cars are just status symbols to let other people know how rich and tasteful you are.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        i guess that applies to the type and make of car you choose (or are able to afford). Many of my friends and family don’t view cars as status symbols, but simple modes of transportation (appliances). For example, my cousin has no sense of “pride” or snob factor in owning her Toyota Corolla and Highlander.

        Nor especially does my Gen-Why co-worker who didn’t even know he was driving a Toyota Matrix. It was just “the family car” to him.

    • 0 avatar

      I no longer call it appliance. Now I don’t mind going from my BMWs to a Camry, when the Camry is so reliable. I prefer to call it a tool, or just an automobile, a vehicle, a car. Just feels go to turn the key and trust my vehicle was made well. When I’m broke, a Camry sounds awesome.

    • 0 avatar

      The Model T was the first ‘appliance car’, so enough of this whining. It was virtually an all in one tool.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    In Reliability Index UK Toyota is in 3rd place of 34 car brands, behind Honda and Suzuki. Lexus is at number 13.

    If Toyota/Lexus is no longer the most reliable car, why bother to buy one? Superior quality has been their only reason to exist.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      In the US Toyota and to a lesser extent Honda are simply the best at understanding the needs of busy suburban customers with very limited time to deal with car maintenance issues. Toyota has to bribe customers with free oil changes to make them ever visit the dealer after the sale.

      The Toyota Camry is an exceptionally well thought out high volume American car. It has a huge interior with lots of space for people or large rectangular boxes, but the exterior dimensions are small enough to fit suburban parking spaces and garages easily. The 4 cylinder model has adequate power and gets good fuel economy for it’s size. Toyota has perfected 200k mile designs with non-turbo non-interference engines with timing chains instead of timing belts and multiport fuel injection to wash the intake valves. The automatic transmission is an utterly conventional slushbox with 6 gear ratios and no special maintenance requirements. The Camry runs on the lowest grade of the cheapest discount gasoline without complaint. Even after 10 or 12 years of service, somebody else will pay good money for your used Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        > Even after 10 or 12 years of service, somebody else will pay good money for your used Camry

        I hope so, as my Camry is 8 now. The irony is that I could get a used BMW 7-series of similar age for nearly the same money, but as desirable as they are I don’t dare to touch one.

        I wonder however if Honda will profit from its lead in quality. And what happened to Lexus? 13th place is not what I had expected.

      • 0 avatar

        All used car prices will rise as a result of significant inflation and growing scarcity in the used car market.

  • avatar

    Why is this surprising? Considering both Honda & Toyota’s numbers were so badly affected by the March 2011 Tsunami, their base numbers were signicantly stunted and now they are back to business as usual.

    A more meaningful business measure would be growth over time that either eliminates or minimizes the 2011 storm affect and shows average annual growth rates.

  • avatar

    The numbers might look impressive, but as said, the Japanese companies are just putting the ‘natural order’ back in place…

    Removing 2011 from the equation and replacing it with 2010… Toyota grew 23%, Nissan up 24%, and Honda up 10% in July, while YTD, Toyota grew 21%, Nissan up 31%, and Honda up 18%.

  • avatar

    Cars are appliances. If you have to commute, what do you want to be bothered with? I want comfort, traffic being what it is in most places, unfortunately.

    As I get older, comfort is paramount…unfortunately as well.

    If you can afford a toy with character, buy an old MG…that’ll teach ya!

    Toyota and Honda have merely perfected “appliance” as pertaining to cars.

    I’ll keep my humble Chevy, thank you. Besides, it got to 100 mph this morning in a ridiculously short amount of time…it also felt really good, too!

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      You bad boy :P It’s blasphemy on TTAC to show GM any love, no matter where they show up in the sales column. GM got the memo and they decided to make cars again. Thier cars are usually competitive and usually cheaper than the imports. Those qualities are good enough for the appliance wars.

      • 0 avatar

        “GM got the memo and they decided to make cars again.”

        Where are they? Exclude Corvette/Camaro I’m not seeing too many real cars coming from the General as of late, same appliance like feel from Chevy’s Daewoos and Buick’s Opels (and one real car they did offer, the 08-12 Malibu has been replaced by an inferior design from what I can tell… mild hybrid my ***).

        I suppose you could make an argument for the V series Cadillac Catera Sedan/Wagon/Coupe, but that’s essentially only one design split into three models. I doubt XTS will even come close, since its Lacrosse cousin is about as exciting as a tomb, and ATS remains to be seen. Maybe they have some nice stuff in the pipeline?

      • 0 avatar

        28 – I think you could certainly say the ATS is a car and not an appliance.
        If you class the previous Malibu as a car and not an appliance then cars like the Verano and Sonic would count. It doesn`t matter if it comes from their European operations or Korean operations. They are GM cars. Other companies have global models (most of Fords lineup, some Acura’s, most Lexus models, all the Germans) so what is the issue?

  • avatar

    Akio should celebrate by buying a 2003 “Time Attack” Ford Mustang GT…

  • avatar

    Eh, things are just getting back to the “norm” – back to pre-tsunami levels.

    But despite being the global production leader, not everything for Toyota is as rosy as it seems.

    Sales for the 1st half of the year were boosted in Japan due to govt. incentives and in the US due to fleet sales and aggressive pricing (for instance, sales of the Camry dropped from 42.5k and 39.5k in March and May to under 30k in July).

    Toyota (and Honda) now has to compete on price for buyers which is not something it had to do just a few years ago.

    Furthermore, sales of the higher end Lexus models, the GS and LS, have shrunk to much lower levels where the Camry/Avalon based RX and ES make up a higher % of Lexus sales more than ever.

    It’s a big reason why Toyota is trying to squeeze more profit out of the ES by bringing its production to the US and why they are planning a RAV-4 based CUV.

  • avatar

    Seems like a few days ago that someone posted about Honda

    “Customers? Sales are poor stateside as they don’t have the product. They closed and shipped Goldwing production from Ohio to China as I know a few who goobled up the US version.”

    Granted Honda # are up 66-67% globally , but only 18.5% in the US. Poor Honda, tanking in the US with sales ONLY up 18.5%. I’m sure the new Accord will be a dog in sales also.

  • avatar

    Many cars of the “good old days” [pick your favorite decade] were plain, had poor handling and slow. Back then, the big Detroit barges were villified, now car fans salivate over all the ‘styling’ and ‘character’.

    Every generation of car fans complain endlessly and want ‘more this’, ‘more that’, from new cars, etc. Today, 40 y/olds wax about “the good old 90’s” cars. Boomers in the 1970s/80s complained about emission controls, longing for the 60s muscle era. And WWII era drivers complained that 60’s cars had ‘too much power and flash’.

    Reality is that some simply want to be ‘young again’, plain and simple.

  • avatar

    These comments reinforce my opinion that GM has given away market share with Buick. For years they were the grey ghosts’ choice of car – roomy, soft, quiet, comfortable. But GM decided that they need to target a younger market for some reason. Now these older folks have turned to Camry which offers all those attributes. Young folk are still not buying Buicks in fact they seldom buy new cars at all.

    • 0 avatar

      Hit the nail on the head. My gripe with Buick (aside from overall facepalm at the Lacrosse) is the Turbo 4-cyls being the default and only choice on some models. Buick buyers in the last twenty years chose “roomy, soft, quiet, comfortable” but also enjoyed power, reasonable fuel economy, and reliability to boot. I believe this is no longer the case with Buick offerings.

  • avatar

    And to those saying ‘Honda has lost its way’, well they are crying…all the way to the banks!

    “Waaah, they killed the S2000!” Well, did you actaully ever buy one, new? They aren’t in entertainment biz, to make cars to sit in showroom for fan-kids to drool over. Want to see more new ‘sporty cars’? Go out and put $$$ where mouth is, and more will be built/sold.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, Honda’s incentive spending is higher than Ford’s so their margins aren’t as good as they used to be.

      • 0 avatar

        How can their spending be higher than Ford when Honda doesn’t sell big ticket F-series trucks which are constantly getting rebates?

        Please bring a source.

    • 0 avatar

      It is undoubtedly true that Honda is still strong in many areas. The new Accord is looking very good and I eagerly await reviews of that as I look to buy a new mid-size car.
      But it is true Honda has had failures, remember the CRZ or Insight they both seem to have fallen of the face of the earth. No news coverage, never see them in comparison tests and sales are very poor. Honda was a pioneer on hybrids but has given it all away to Toyota (and to a much lesser extent Ford). The Element was a great idea and car, but no replacement for it which is the same for the S2000.

  • avatar

    If you really value reliability above all else – one of those outdated non direct injected 4 speed cars like a Corolla or RAV4 will be to your liking.

    But its not proof that for EVERYONE a car is an just an appliance. Much like a Fridge or a PC might have some differenting characterstics – so can autos.

    Almost everyone can feel that a BMW drives much better then a Camry. Just because not everyone buys based on that is not a sign that the cars are only appliances.

    Actually how a car look, feels and drives is more important then ever because even ‘unreliable’ makes like VW can hold up for 100k miles.

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