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.
Launching the third-generation Toyota Yaris adds a new chapter to the brand model’s success story. Over the last decade, the Yaris had consistently enjoyed a segment share of more than 5%. Toyota’s increase in total sales in Europe has largely been attributed to the popularity of the Yaris, thus further promoting the brand image and becoming a pillar of the company’s European manufacturing operations.
Competing in the B-segment, the Toyota Yaris remains to be the most important sales arena of the European automotive market, with 26% share of the total market—equating to about 4 million dollars sales annually.
Throughout the past few years, fissures have been accelerating within the B-segment, due to increasing diversity of new model types such as the SUV and B-MPV. Nonetheless, the hatchback endures as the segment’s most important and best-selling body style, making up 50% of the total sales. With the continued increase in fuel costs and Carbon dioxide emission levels, causing the deterioration of demands in other segments, the B-segment sales are expected to remain stable in the near future.
Touching on the specifications of the model itself, while the second generation Toyota is well-commended for its interior spaciousness, durability, on-road versatility, engine efficiency and ease in driving, the new Yaris will possess all the strengths of its predecessor, while offering more.
The new Yaris will be boasting the following: a more dynamic and sophisticated design execution, a clear improvement in sensory quality, a segment breakthrough in multimedia connectivity; efficient powertrains, innovative transmission and a greater, more powerful agility essential to urban driving.