Japan's Auto Production Slump Eases

The slump in Japan's global auto production eased in August as a record month in China for Toyota, Honda and Nissan offset dire market conditions elsewhere.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's top automaker, partly credited a boost in production in Asia for its first year-on-year overseas production rise in 13 months in August. Production of 309,589 vehicles was up 4.7 percent from the same month the previous year. It also got a boost in August from a cash-for-clunkers sales incentive program in the U.S.

Toyota's global production - which includes production in Japan - remained sluggish at 508,673 vehicles, down 8.7 percent from a year earlier, underlining the severity of problems at Japanese automakers since the credit crunch and industry slowdown struck last year.

But the percentage drops have been growing smaller, easing in the latest month from previous double-digit falls.

Toyota's China production was a record high for August at 58,592 vehicles, up 53.4 percent from the same month the previous year.

Honda Motor Co. also racked up record production in China, although worldwide production for Japan's No. 2 automaker declined year-on-year for the 10th straight month.

Tokyo-based Honda's worldwide production totaled 246,403 vehicles in August, down 16.6 percent from the same month a year ago. Honda's production in Japan plunged 36.8 percent, and exports from Japan plummeted 60.7 percent.

Nissan Motor Co., allied with Renault SA of France, was another automaker with record production in China for August, at 44,441 vehicles, surging 60.1 percent. Nissan's global production sank 13.7 percent from a year earlier to 217,954 vehicles.

Mazda Motor Corp. produced 84,823 vehicles around the world in August, down 12.8 percent from the same month last year.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. produced 62,924 vehicles globally in August, down 32.1 percent.