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.