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Japanese cars made in North America top 5m for 1st time

Japan's auto exports to region fall to half what they were 30 years ago

TOKYO -- Japanese automakers turned out more than 5 million vehicles in North America for the first time in the year through March.

But they could be urged to make even more in the U.S. by President Donald Trump.

Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, Subaru and Hino Motors put together a combined 5,003,000 units in the U.S. and Canada during fiscal 2016. This was more than a 1% increase from the previous year, which included the output of Mitsubishi Motors. It was also the fifth straight year of record North American production.

During the five-year span, the five automakers' production in the region increased by 1.36 million units.

Toyota last fiscal year was the largest producer of the five, spinning out some 1.97 million units, up 1% on the year. Subaru's production in the region jumped 42% to some 330,000 cars. The leap was largely attributable to the termination of a contract that had Subaru making Camrys for Toyota in North America.

In the U.S. alone, the five produced some 3.97 million units, a record number for the fourth straight year. Their U.S. car production sharply fell after the global financial crisis struck in 2008 but has been on the rise ever since 2012.

While car sales in North America are expected to slow this year, the Japanese carmakers will likely further expand their production in the region. Toyota has laid out plans to invest $10 billion in the U.S., and Honda is due to fully revamp its Accord sedan this fiscal year.

Meanwhile, total exports of cars from Japan to North America came to some 1.9 million units during the fiscal year. This is roughly half of their peak some 30 years ago, though the numbers have been stable for the past several years. Exports to the U.S. alone came to 1.71 million units, up for the second straight year.

Japanese carmakers are more keen on expanding in low-cost Mexico than in the U.S. or Canada. Over the past five years, their Mexico production has roughly doubled. During fiscal 2016, they finished some 1.45 million cars in the country -- almost 40% of what they produced in the U.S.

(Nikkei)

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