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Japanese car-makers on the rise

Cash cow: The Qashqai helped Nissan increase its sales in Europe by 11.7 per cent, as the company recorded a modest 2.7 per cent global sales increase over the previous financial year.

Fiscal year results show sale, profit increases for major Japanese car brands

1 Jun 2015

JAPANESE car-makers have reported mostly positive news for the 2014-15 financial year, with all major brands experiencing profit growth over the past 12 months – except Honda and Suzuki.

The fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, saw Toyota record one of its biggest profits ever, with a ¥2.17 trillion ($A22.84b) profit representing a 19.2 per cent increase over the previous financial year. The automotive giant sold 8.97 million vehicles globally over the period.

Nissan Motor Company recorded a significant 17.6 per cent increase in its profits to ¥457.6 billion ($A4.81b), with the company citing “robust demand” for its products in Western Europe and North America, “cost efficiencies” and the correction of the yen-dollar exchange as helping to offset challenging conditions in Japan and emerging markets.

The second-largest Japanese car-maker recorded worldwide sales of 5,329,982 units, which is a 2.7 per cent increase over the previous year’s results and an all-time record for the April to March period.

Nissan’s sales fell 21 per cent last financial year in Japan, but outside its home market the car-maker recorded 5.3 per cent growth. In Europe, where Nissan’s SUV line-up – led by the Qashqai – is popular, sales increased 11.7 per cent, and the US climbed 8.9 per cent, however it did post a 2.4 per cent fall in China.

Despite recording the second-biggest profit out of the Japanese brands last year, Honda Motor Company’s 2014-15 net income of ¥522.7 billion ($A5.5b) represented an 8.9 per cent drop over the 2013-14 result. Its total global sales, however, were up by just 0.04 per cent to 4,360,000 units.

The company attributed the drop in net income to “selling, general and administrative expenses”, including quality-related costs, as well as a downturn in sales in the Japanese domestic market in which its sales fell 7.1 per cent last financial year.

Suzuki had a mixed fiscal year, its net income dropping 9.9 per cent to ¥96.9b ($A1.02b), despite its global vehicle sales increasing by a massive 105.8 per cent to 2,867,191, its third consecutive year of volume growth and its best sales year ever.

Sales in India, where it trades as Maruti Suzuki, was the key reason for the increase, but China and Pakistan also helped the brand along, as did Japan, in which sales rose 103.8 per cent to 755,893 units.

The majority of Suzuki’s sales in Japan (679,353) were for mini vehicles, with the all-new Alto hatch launched last year, and the quirky Hustler micro-SUV helping boost interest in the brand in its home market.

Mazda Motor Corporation grew its net income to the end of March by 17 per cent to ¥158.8b ($A1.67b) as its worldwide sales continued to increase, with a five per cent hike to 1,397,000 units.

The company said that models featuring its SkyActiv fuel-efficient powertrain technology made up 74 per cent of its sales, led by the CX-5 SUV, Mazda3 and Mazda2 small cars.

Europe was Mazda’s biggest area growth wise, lifting by 14 per cent, China also contributed with a nine per cent boost, while the car-maker recorded its best sales in 20 years in North America on the back of a nine per cent increase.

Mazda credited its sales success to “ongoing structural reforms” that have helped improve costs, and the diversification of its manufacturing base which has seen it open up new production facilities in Mexico in recent years.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation increased profit by 12.9 per cent last financial year to ¥118.1b ($A1.24b), which along with all its profit areas was an all-time record high for the car-maker.

Its global sales volume rose four per cent to 1,090,000 units, despite a 20 per cent dip in its home market.

Mitsubishi fared better in the US (up 21 per cent) and Europe (up 13 per cent), thanks to the broad acceptance of its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid, while Asia remained static with a boost in China offsetting a sluggish Thailand.

Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru, reported a ¥261.9b ($A2.75b) profit, a 26.7 per cent improvement over the previous financial year, with global sales growing by 10.4 per cent to 911,000 units.

Its Japanese sales were down by 10.4 per cent despite strong interest for the new-generation WRX and Levorg performance wagon, but Subaru fared better in international markets where it grew 16.2 per cent thanks to the popularity of the redesigned Liberty/Legacy and Outback siblings, as well as the WRX.

The global sales growth helped offset Subaru’s research and development costs and selling, general and administrative expenses. In the US, Subaru’s recorded its best sales since 1986 when the company started full-year consolidated financial reporting.

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