Nissan Outshines Honda, Toyota Following Earthquake, Tsunami

May 14, 2011

Nissan has just reported the highest annual sales in its history. Globally, the Japanese motor company experienced an increase in sales of 19 percent to 4.2 million vehicles. Profits were up 17 percent for the same period.

One reason for the strong financial showing is the fact that Nissan’s vehicle production in Japan has virtually returned to normal following the devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11th.

The introduction of ten new models over the last year also had a positive impact on international sales. Demand in China was strong: up a whopping 36 percent. Sales increased 19 percent in Europe and 17 percent in the U.S.

Honda sales taking a hit

Honda continues to experience economic fallout from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Honda experienced a 1.6-percent drop in sales during the first quarter of this year. Profits were down 38 percent for the same period. These dismal financial figures were a direct result of Japan’s natural disasters. Honda simply could not produce cars for a period of time because of a shortage of parts.

Some 25 percent of all Honda vehicles are assembled in Japan. Consumers in the U.S. can expect ongoing supply chain problems to result in vehicle shortages until production returns to normal by the end of the year.

Toyota: a mixed bag

On one hand, Toyota has been hit harder than any other Japanese carmaker following the earthquake and tsunami devastation. Some 38 percent of Toyota’s cars are made in Japan. This is a higher proportion compared to other Japanese auto manufacturers.

Toyota’s profits dropped 77 percent during the first three months of this year. Experts are predicting Toyota is on track to lose its status as the world’s top-selling carmaker to General Motors later this year.

Yet, Toyota’s recovery is now expected to be quicker than previously thought. Toyota hopes to achieve vehicle production that is 70 percent of normal next month for assembly plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Amazingly, Toyota is now expecting to jump-start incentives for a number of popular models that are forecast to soon have excess supply.

Don’t expect the fuel-efficient Prius and Yaris models to be included in incentive programs. With rising gas prices and continuing supply chain issues, both the Prius and Yaris will be in short supply for the near-future.

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