Japanese Automakers Report Mixed Results in Wake of Earthquake

Nearly four months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan, the country’s automakers are still feeling the blow to vehicle production and sales. Mitsubishi and Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries reported drastic drops in Japanese production, yet Mazda had positive expectations.

Mazda announced that all its production facilities have returned to their normal capacities, and appears the Japanese automaker least affected by the natural disaster. The company plans to build 900,000 vehicles during financial-year 2012. That’s a 3.8-percent increase over fiscal-year 2011, which Mazda attributes to the appeal of its new vehicles. The company predicts net income of one billion yen ($12.4 million) in the new fiscal year, compared to a net loss of 60 billion yen ($742.5 million) for fiscal-year 2011.

Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru, reported a continued reduction in sales and vehicle production due to supply shortages. Japanese vehicle production in May 2011 was down compared to May 2010 -- the eighth consecutive month in which FHI production declined year-over-year. Sales of new FHI vehicles in Japan were likewise down year-over-year for the eight consecutive month.

Mitsubishi reported its first year-over-year production increase since March 2011 -- for the three months prior to May, domestic Mitsubishi vehicle production fell year-over-year in the wake of the earthquake. However, Mitsubishi claims it has achieved a “relative recovery to normal” in production capacity at its plants. Vehicle sales in Japan fell 7.9 percent year-over-year in May, representing the ninth consecutive month of sales decreases compared to 2010. The upshot is that overseas Mitsubishi plants are compensating for the reduced Japanese production; overseas vehicle production rose 15.1 percent year-over-year, the fifth consecutive monthly year-over-year increase.

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