Nearly seven out of ten Japanese vehicles sold in the U.S. are built in North America, according to The Detroit Bureau and a study conducted by the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA). JAMA also credits Japanese automakers for the creation of 407,000 U.S. jobs.
Honda opened its first automobile assembly line in Marysville, Ohio nearly 30 years ago. By 2010, 29 Japanese automobile factories were in operation in North America, which represents a total investment of $34 billion. More assembly plants are coming, including a Toyota facility in Tupelo, Mississippi and a Honda Fit factory in Mexico. The plants employ about 50,000 workers, not including suppliers and contractors tied to those lines.
The strong yen and weak U.S. dollar makes it more cost effective for Japanese automakers to build vehicles for North America consumption in North America. It’s also becoming more cost effective for Japanese automakers to build vehicles in North America for other world markets. Recently, Toyota announced it would build the Sienna minivan in the U.S. for Korean import, as well as other models. Japanese exports from the U.S. jumped from 95,000 units in 2009 to 145,000 units in 2010, according to JAMA.
The American trade deficit is also raising concern for Japanese automakers who want to avoid a repeat of the “voluntary” quotas they faced 20 years ago, according to the report, which impacted U.S. sales greatly.
The report also said that U.S. consumers no longer care where their cars are built because Japanese vehicles assembled in U.S. match the quality of vehicles built in Japan. Initially lower-cost vehicles, such as the Nissan Sentra, were built stateside because it was more cost-effective, but with the current currency rates more expensive vehicles like the upcoming Infiniti JX crossover will be built in the U.S. Toyota will continue to build the Prius in Japan, but Nissan plans to build more than 100,000 Leaf EVs at a future extension at its Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant.
Source: The Detroit Bureau