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Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Japan’s ‘big three’ cut production


Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co, Japan’s three-largest carmakers, cut global production last month as the deepening recession and a credit crunch damped demand for new automobiles.

Toyota’s output fell 27 percent to 589,505 vehicles last month, led by a 55 percent drop in Europe, the company said in a statement yesterday. The decline is the biggest in at least two decades, spokeswoman Yasue Kato said. Honda’s production dropped 10 percent to 326,176 vehicles, and Nissan cut 34 percent to 222,212 units, the companies said separately.

The carmakers are slashing output and profit forecasts as the global recession and concerns of job losses deter consumers from purchasing new cars and sport-utility vehicles. Toyota, the maker of Corolla and Camry cars, on Dec. 22 predicted its first operating loss in 71 years, and Honda last week slashed its full-year profit estimate 62 percent.

“The automotive market has been in recession in every developed market, especially since October,” said Junichi Yamaki, a Tokyo-based analyst at credit-rating company Moody’s Japan KK. “Uncertainty in the financial systems in countries, including the US, is adversely affecting consumers’ ability to obtain credit.”

Toyota’s sales in the US, traditionally its most profitable market, plunged 34 percent last month. The automaker, which opened its seventh North American auto assembly plant earlier this month, said it plans to further reduce production at factories in the US and Canada.

Honda’s vehicle sales in the US, its biggest market, plunged 32 percent last month, the most since 1981, and sales in Europe sank 34 percent. The company has lowered its vehicle sales forecast for the year ending March 31 to 3.65 million vehicles from 4.015 million last week. Sales in North America may total 1.59 million vehicles, down from its previous estimate of 1.735 million units.

Honda will cut global production by 314,000 vehicles for the current fiscal year. It is also cutting at least 1,210 temporary jobs in Japan. The company yesterday said Japan output fell 3.9 percent last month to 114,565 units, and overseas production fell 13 percent to 211,611 units.

Nissan’s US production plunged 60 percent, and UK output sank 34 percent, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Nissan said on Dec. 17 it would reduce domestic production by 78,000 vehicles starting next month to reduce inventory. The company’s domestic production cuts will widen to 225,000 vehicles for the fiscal year ending March 31.

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