Japanese carmakers increased their car and truck production in the United States by 36 percent in 2012 to 3.3 million vehicles from 2.4 million units in 2011, according to new data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
The numbers in 2012 was the highest since 2007, when Japanese carmakers built 3.5 million vehicles in the US, JAMA said. The carmakers from Japan also managed to increase their US market share to 36.9 percent in 2012 from 34.9 percent in 2011. The carmakers, which include Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., were able to hurdle an inventory crisis in 2011 caused by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March that year.
Ron Bookbinder, general director of JAMA USA, remarked that the figures are proof of the carmakers' recovery from the recession and from the earthquake and tsunami. He remarked that as long as the US economy and U.S. vehicle demand hold up, production in the country will continue to rise.
Japanese carmakers are also taking advantage of the weakening Japanese yen, which has depreciated 19 percent against the dollar since Oct. 31, 2012, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started a campaign to lower the currency to stimulate the Japanese economy.
According to Morgan Stanley, the weaker yen gives Japanese carmakers an extra $1,500 to $2,000 per car and cuts the cost of production in Japan.
Auto imports from Japan jumped to 1.7 million vehicles in 2012, from 1.4 million in 2011, according to JAMA. [source: Bloomberg]