Toyota plans to export more cars from U.S. than any of its Detroit competitors

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 14, 2012

Toyota Motor Corp. wants its exports from its U.S. plants to surpass what any of its Detroit competitors can reach, according to Yoshimi Inaba, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and Toyota Motor North America. He said that Toyota hopes to have the highest export figure in moving vehicles outside of the NAFTA zone than its American counterparts.

He explained that it is in Toyota’s best interest to “export, to help the U.S. economy and to help better utilize our capacity and also take advantage of today's yen." The strengthening yen has compelled Japan-based automakers to transfer more of its production to other countries to guard its profits. Toyota was particularly affected by the high yen since its output in Japan is higher than other Japanese automakers.

The weakening dollar means that it makes for sense for automakers to attain higher profits by assembling and delivering light vehicles from the U.S. The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission said that for the first 10 months of 2011, U.S. plants (including those owned by Toyota) exported 536,966 vehicles outside the NAFTA zone.

Toyota had 16,700 units of this figure. When exports to Mexico and Canada are included, automakers exported around 1.28 million vehicles from U.S. plants in the first 10 months of 2011. Of this figure, Toyota had around 100,000 units. Toyota exports to 19 countries outside the NAFTA zone as of the moment.

Majority of these countries are in the Middle East, South America and Asia. This current export volume is low but Toyota is working hard to raise this number. Inaba said that Toyota has recently started to export its U.S.-produced Camrys to South Korea. It is currently assessing whether it should continue with a plan for the Russian market to get U.S. exports.

Presently, the vehicles that Toyota exports are the Camry, Sienna, Sequoia, Venza and Avalon as well as the Tundra and Tacoma pickups. Inaba said that it hopes to be No. 1 by exceeding the exports of the Detroit Three. Inaba explained that Japanese factory production levels won’t be affected as those units exported from the U.S. are not also built in Japan. He pointed out that this is “an incremental volume.” Toyota has four assembly plants in the U.S. These are in Georgetown, Ky., Princeton, Ind., Tupelo, Miss., and San Antonio. Subaru, a Toyota partner, produces the Camry at its Lafayette, Ind. facility.

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