Starting May 2013, production of the Toyota Yaris that’s intended for North America will be moved from Japan to France. This would be the first time that Toyota will be exporting cars from Europe to North America. Analysts think that this move is meant to lessen the impact of a strong yen and rising energy expenses on its earnings.
The other Japanese-based automakers have moved their export production from Japan to other countries too. While the debt crisis in Europe is worsening, the yen had fallen below 78 against the dollar at the start of June. But since then, the yen has been weakened to above 80 yen to the dollar at the end of last week after Greece put into office a government that’s pro-bailout.
Even before Toyota made this announcement, the other Japanese companies like Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. have already announced plans to build new factories in Mexico to serve North America and cut loss-making exports from Japan, says Autonews.
The automakers based in Japan would also contend with expensive labor regulations, high corporate taxes and an energy policy deadlock after the Fukushima crisis in 2011 that prompted the closure of all of the nuclear reactors in Japan.
Toyota said that when combined, the yearly annual export volume from France to the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico would amount to about 25,000 units. In Japan, the Yaris is known as the Vitz.
This change would need the automaker to invest 8 million euros ($10 million) more for the production from the French plant to cope with the specific requirements of the market in North America. Toyota said that just gasoline variants of the Yaris will be exported to North America.