Bloomberg News

Toyota Says North America to Become Global Export Base

January 11, 2012

(Company corrects countries where vehicle are shipped in second paragraph. For coverage of the Detroit auto show, see SHOW <GO>.)

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s biggest automaker, will use its North American plants as a bigger source of vehicle exports as a way to blunt the impact of the rising yen, said Yoshimi Inaba, chief operating officer for the region.

The company is now shipping cars and trucks built at North American plants to 19 countries, including South Korea and Saudi Arabia, and aims to significantly boost the volume, totaling 16,700 units a year ago, Inaba told reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday.

“This is only a beginning,” Inaba said. “The only way to take advantage of this extremely high yen is to export from this dollar basis.”

Toyota, along with Japan-based Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., has already shifted more vehicle production outside Japan to counter the yen’s 8.3 percent rise against the dollar in the past year. Exports from the Toyota City, Japan-based company’s plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will mainly be of niche models not built in Japan.

Toyota already exports Camry and Avalon sedans, Tundra and Tacoma pickups, Sienna minivans and Sequoia sport-utility vehicles to markets including Venezuela, South Korea and countries in the Middle East, Inaba said.

Given the scale of Toyota’s global distribution network, the company should eventually be able to export more vehicles from North American plants than even U.S.-based automakers, Inaba said.

As a further cost-saving move, Toyota is also studying getting more parts or even producing more vehicles in Mexico, Inaba said.

“Using Mexico as an important base for either parts or production is no doubt,” Inaba said, without elaborating. “We are always looking at Mexico. We have a small experience in Baja, but that is not the end of the story.”

The company has a small factory in Mexico’s Baja California, near Tijuana, that builds about 60,000 Tacoma pickups annually.

Toyota’s U.S. sales unit is based in Torrance, California.

--Editors: Jamie Butters, Bill Koenig.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net


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