Japan's top three automakers post record 2012
By Hiroshi Hiyama, AFP
January 29, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
TOKYO--Japan's three biggest automakers — Toyota, Nissan and Honda — on Monday posted record sales for 2012, as the results confirmed that Toyota recaptured the world's biggest automaker crown.
The rosy results underscored the trio's recovery after Japan's quake-tsunami disaster in 2011 devastated sales and production, and highlighted strong demand in the key Asian and U.S. markets.
That helped offset weakness in debt-hit Europe and a downturn in China stemming from a diplomatic row that sparked a consumer boycott of Japanese goods in China, the world's biggest vehicle market.
On Monday, 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 with record numbers in the U.S. market.
Honda, Japan's number-three automaker, logged sales of 3.81 million vehicles, up from 3.09 million a year earlier.
The latest figures confirmed that Toyota regained the global sales title which it lost in 2011 to U.S.-based General Motors, largely due to the natural disasters.
The crisis and flooding in Thailand — where Japanese automakers have production plants — during 2011 marked a "particularly harsh year," said Nomura auto analyst Masataka Kunugimoto.
"2012 is the year we saw things becoming normal again," he said.
However, Nissan, part-owned by France's Renault, warned in November that its net profit for the fiscal year through March would be down 20 percent to 320 billion yen (US$3.52 billion), citing its heavy exposure to China.
Honda has blamed the territorial row with Beijing over an East China Sea island chain — and a strong yen — for a 20 percent cut to its annual profit forecast.