Toyota (NYSE:TM) announced today its first increase in monthly domestic output since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disrupted the global supply chain. Toyota posted a 12% on-year rise in domestic production in August, the first year-over-year rise in 12 months, as its nearly fully-recovered parts supply chain allowed the automaker to boost output.
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Both Suzuki and Mazda have also reported boosted domestic production in August. Suzuki’s output rose 5.9% in August, its first rise in 11 months, while Mazda boosted production by 5.6%, its first rise in six months. However, Nissan and Honda (NYSE:HMC) both reported a decline in domestic output in August, with Honda’s output falling 17% while Nissan’s fell 2.5%. The two automakers attribute the declines to the high basis of comparison, as many customers rushed to buy fuel-efficient cars in August 2010 as government subsidies neared expiration.
During the April-July period, Japan’s overall auto output fell 34%, by 1.4 million vehicles, compared to the same quarter the year earlier. Automakers are now trying to boost production above pre-earthquake levels in order to make up for delays. Toyota originally planned to attempt to catch up in September, but did so a month earlier, while Honda plans to boost output volume by 25% in the fiscal second half, through March 2012. Nissan expects production to be back to pre-earthquake levels by October.
However, with the yen near a record high against the dollar, overseas demand might not keep pace with production targets. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said last week that Japanese automakers might have to move production outside of Japan if the yen stays at current levels over the next six months, though he doesn’t expect the yen’s strength to last. The chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Toshiyuki Shiga, said Tuesday there there are no signs of weakening demand in Europe or the U.S. as of yet.
Toyota produced 252,374 vehicles in August, with exports climbing 19.8% to 137,977 vehicles. Nissan’s domestic output declined 2.5% to 89,262 vehicles in August after three straight monthly rises, while Honda’s domestic production dropped 17% to 56,356 vehicles. Suzuki’s output increased 5.9% to 86,215 vehicles, while Mazda’s rose 5.6% to 68,449 vehicles.