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Slow sales, quake threaten to topple Toyota

Hit hard: Repeated recall dramas and the aftermath of the tsunami saw Toyota's worldwide production grow just 1.1 per cent, to 8,241,675 units.

Toyota could lose largest car-maker title in 2011 due to recall, quake aftermath

General News logo2 May 2011

THE Japanese car-makers have released final production figures for their financial year ending March 31 – just 20 days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the country – and all but Toyota, Mazda and Honda reported double-digit increases on the previous year.

Toyota, dogged by a damaged reputation as a result of repeated recall dramas saw its worldwide production grow just 1.1 per cent, to 8,241,675 units.

The modest production increase for the year, coupled with the company’s expectation that it will not return to full production until November or December, paves the way for a resurgent General Motors and relentless Volkswagen Group to send it tumbling from the global top spot to third – or even fourth if combined results of the Renault-Nissan Alliance are taken into account.

For the 2010 calendar year, GM was just 28,000 units behind Toyota in the sales race.

As expected in the aftermath of the earthquake, Toyota’s production for March was down 31.3 per cent globally, with a 61.5 per cent reduction in Japan and 2.2 per cent overseas.

80 center imageFrom top: Nissan Dualis, Mazda3, all-new Honda Civic, Suzuki Swift.

In the face of the uncertainty caused by the rebuilding efforts, no Japanese vehicle manufacturer has issued production or sales forecasts for the present quarter or beyond.

At the opposite end of the growth spectrum, Nissan produced 24.5 per cent more vehicles worldwide at 4,214,959.

The company’s financial results will not be published until May 12, but before the earthquake it forecast net profit of ¥315 billion ($A3.5 billion), a 643 per cent increase over FY2009.

Mazda production grew 4.7 per cent to 866,992 units while Honda car sales rose 5.5 per cent compared with an 18 per cent rise in power equipment sales and a 19.7 per cent rise for motorcycles.

Honda, which recorded a net profit of ¥534 billion, an increase of 266 per cent, said the increased sales and efforts to reduce the overall costs of running the business enabled it to fend off the impacts of the March 11 disaster, a strong Yen and increased research and development costs.

Mitsubishi Motors’ net profit of ¥15.6 billion represents a 228 per cent increase on the previous financial year on the back of a 26 per cent rise in revenue, thanks to a 15 per cent increase in volume to 1,105,000 units, which Mitsubishi attributes to the popularity of the ASX crossover in global markets.

The biggest volume hike for Mitsubishi was in Europe, where it achieved 29 per cent growth in an otherwise slow market, thanks to Russia – where local production of the Outlander has commenced.

Suzuki also had a good year, with global production for FY2010 at 2.878 million units, up 13.1 per cent. The company’s financial results are yet to be published but it has predicted a 21 per cent increase on FY2009.

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