Toyota, Honda Hit Global Production Records In 2006

Sales came from North America.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motors said Jan. 26 their global production hit records last year thanks to robust sales in North America while Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors slipped.

Toyota announced a 9.5% increase in global production to 9.018 million vehicles, the 15th straight annual increase, although it fell below December forecasts of 9.05 million.

Toyota, on the path to snatch the crown this year from General Motors as the world's number one automaker, increased production in Japan for a fifth consecutive year at 10.3%. Overseas production went up 8.6%. The pioneer of hybrid cars last month forecast production of 9.42 million autos in 2007 amid strong demand from the United States.

Honda Motors, Japan's number-three automaker, also reported an all-time high of 2.728 million vehicles produced in 2006, up 7.5% for a 10th consecutive annual rise. Honda increased production by 30% in China and 9.8% in Japan. Production growth in the U.S. was milder at 1.6% while in Europe production dropped 3.9%.

Nissan Motor, Japan's number two automaker, said its global production dropped 7.7% to 3.238 million units in 2006 as its market share eroded at home and it launched few new models overseas. Nissan, which is owned 44% by France's Renault, saw domestic production tumble 14.9%. It reported a drop of 2.6% overseas.

Mitsubishi Motors, which ranks number four among Japan's automakers and is the only one in the red, also reported a decline in production for 2006, of 3.6% to 1.313 million vehicles.

However, smaller-scale Mazda Motor announced a 12.1% increase to 1.285 million units, with overseas production reaching a record high and domestic output at its highest since 1994.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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