Japan Automakers Boost Production in China

Nissan increases production by 58%, Toyota 47%, Honda 28%

Japan's largest automakers made more cars in China last fiscal year than ever before, as surging demand in the booming Asian nation continued to drive a global recovery in auto manufacturing.

Due in part to the global financial crisis, China has passed Japan and the U.S. to become the world's No. 1 car market. Carmakers are ramping up production in China to offset declining or stagnant developed markets.

Toyota Motor Corp. said on April 26 its China manufacturing rose 47% in the fiscal year through March 2010 from the previous year, to about 722,000 vehicles. That was a new record for the Chinese market and its biggest increase outside of Taiwan, where it makes far fewer cars.

Toyota rolled out its first Camry made in China just four years ago. It has partnerships with several domestic, state-owned automakers. The world's largest car manufacturer said its overall global production inched up 2.5% to 7.28 million during its fiscal year. Production in the U.S. rose 12%. Toyota increased its total output despite massive global recalls that have hurt its reputation for quality. As the problems came to light it briefly shut down plants across the U.S. and in other locations.

Chief rival Honda Motor Co. also said it set a record for Chinese production last fiscal year, with output rising 28% to 652,596 vehicles. But its plants in other locations made fewer vehicles than the previous year, with large falls in Japan and Europe dragging down its global total 7.5% to 3.3 million. Domestic production at Honda was down 22% to 901,775 vehicles.

Japan's No. 3 manufacturer, Nissan Motor Co., also made more vehicles in China than ever before, with production there soaring 58% to 613,183 vehicles. That helped raise its global production 7.8% to 3.15 million vehicles, even as output slipped slightly in Japan and the U.S.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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