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Toyota, Nissan Boost February Production on Asia, U.S. Demand

March 29

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest automaker, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. increased global output in February on surging demand in Asia and amid a recovery in the U.S.

Toyota’s production rose 83 percent to 655,180 vehicles from a year earlier, it said today in a statement. Output at Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest carmaker, rose 49 percent to 284,711 units, and Nissan, the third-largest, built 270,366 vehicles, up 72 percent, the companies said separately.

Japanese automakers were buoyed by rising sales in China, Japan and the U.S., where sales rose for a fourth month in February. Output plunged a year earlier amid a global recession.

Toyota increased production even as the company’s American sales dropped 8.7 percent in February, dragged down by recalls of more than 8 million vehicles since September for problems including unintended acceleration. Toyota’s U.S. production increased 70 percent to 84,184 for the month, it said.

This month, Toyota’s sales in the U.S., helped by an incentive campaign to counter the effects of the recalls, may report a 37 percent jump, according to Dave Cutting, senior manager of North American forecasting for J.D. Power & Associates.

The company is using no-interest loans and lease discounts in the U.S. to coax back buyers after sales dropped 12 percent in the first two months of this year.

China Production

Toyota more than doubled production in China, which surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest car market in 2009, to 56,397 in February, an increase of 136 percent. Industrywide sales of passenger cars, trucks and buses in the country rose 46 percent from a year earlier to 1.21 million vehicles.

It plans to increase capacity at a joint-venture plant with China FAW Group Corp. in Chengdu to 30,000 units from 13,000 units by June. The plant builds the Coaster and Land Cruiser Prado models.

The Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker also intends to build a second plant in Changchun, Jilin province, where it may make Corolla compact cars.

In Japan, sales at Toyota and other carmakers began recovering from a yearlong slide in August as government rebates and tax cuts for fuel-efficient vehicles helped rekindle demand. Toyota’s Prius hybrid was the best-selling car there in February for the ninth straight month.

Toyota shares fell 0.5 percent to 3,740 yen at the 3 p.m. close of trading in Tokyo.

U.S. Recovery

Honda’s U.S. production in February increased 62 percent to 76,646 as it benefited from the recovery in auto sales there. estimates U.S. car sales will rise 31 percent in March from a year earlier, while Honda’s may gain 22 percent, the industry researcher said last week.

The Tokyo-based company increased China production 26 percent to 43,843 units. Honda’s local venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Co. said last month it will invest 1.15 billion yuan ($168 million) to build a second plant in China that will begin production in the second half of 2012. The factory’s target capacity for Honda-brand vehicles is 240,000 vehicles a year.

Honda will also increase production capacity at the venture’s existing plant in Hubei province to 240,000 vehicles this year, from 200,000.

Nissan increased February production in Japan by 121 percent to 97,109 vehicles, including a tripling of exports to 50,279 units, the Yokohama-based automaker said. Its sales in China rose 34 percent to 58,323 units.

LINK: Toyota, Nissan Boost February Production on Asia, U.S. Demand -
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