Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Toyota and Nissan announce record sales for last year

SALES REGIONS:The firms saw strong sales in Asia and a pick-up in North America, which offset the effects of a diplomatic row between Toyko and Beijing

AFP, TOKYO

Toyota and Nissan yesterday posted record sales for last year as the Japanese car giants benefited from a pick-up in demand, with Toyota recapturing the world’s biggest automaker crown from General Motors (GM).

Toyota said sales last year soared 22.6 percent to 9.75 million vehicles, while Nissan saw a 5.8 percent on-year rise to 4.94 million units.

Honda, Japan’s No. 3 automaker, recorded sales of 3.81 million vehicles, up from 3.09 million a year earlier, as strong US and Asian demand boosted its results.

The latest figures confirmed that Toyota regained the global sales crown lost in 2011 to US-based GM, as the Japanese quake-tsunami disaster hammered the firm’s sales and production.

Robust Asian sales and a pick-up in North America helped drive sales for Japan’s big three, offsetting weak demand in Europe and the effects of Tokyo’s diplomatic row with Beijing, which sparked a Chinese consumer boycott of Japanese goods in the latter part of last year.

Nissan said it posted record sales in the US last year, underscoring the pick-up in demand in a key vehicle market.

However, Nissan, part-owned by France’s Renault, warned in November last year that its net profit for the fiscal year through March would be down 20 percent to ¥320 billion (US$3.52 billion), citing its heavy exposure to the Chinese market.

Less affected by the dispute, Toyota hiked its profit forecast to ¥780 billion for the same period, up from ¥760 billion, although it trimmed its annual sales forecast to ¥21.3 trillion.

A strong yen and uncertainty in China and Europe dented Japan’s automakers, with Toyota largely crediting its better profit outlook to cost-cutting, including a decrease in labor, research and development expenses.

Honda has blamed the ongoing territorial row — and a strong yen — for a 20 percent cut to its annual profit forecast.

On the production side, Toyota said it made 9.90 million vehicles last year, up 26.1 percent, while Nissan posted a 5.5 percent production increase to 4.88 million units last year.

Toyota shares were down 0.57 percent to ¥4,315 and Honda was off 0.58 percent at ¥3,400 while Nissan bucked a fall in the broader market yesterday by closing up 2.40 percent at ¥895.

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