Japan Auto Lobby Calls for Weaken Yen

The head of Japan’s auto lobby urged the government and the Bank of Japan on Friday to quickly implement effective steps to counter the strong yen, after it hit a seven-month high against the dollar the previous day.

“The current foreign exchange level, which is far from the actual ability of the Japanese economy, goes much beyond the limits of what companies can do through efforts to cut costs,” Akio Toyoda, the head of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), said in a statement.

“Japan’s manufacturing is facing a great crisis again, and if things remain this way it could have a further impact on employment,” said Toyoda, who is president of Toyota Motor Corp.

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Toyota Rising Again After Recalls

Toyota roared back to a hefty profit in the first quarter and said on Friday that it intended to build a record-breaking 9.76 million cars this year, leading a recovery by Japanese automakers after a year of natural disasters and a punishingly strong currency.

Though the strong yen continues to weigh on the bottom lines of Japanese exporters, many other things are going right for Japanese automakers. Supply chains that were severed are now up and running, and manufacturers like Toyota and Honda, racing to meet pent-up demand, are fast regaining lost ground in profitable markets like the United States. Japanese government incentives on fuel-efficient cars have revived markets at home.

Read the rest of the story: Toyota Raises Sales Target as Quarterly Profit Rises.

Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s CEO, Determined to Save Manufacturing in Japan

Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first “Shogun,” who in 1603 founded the dynasty and established military government (“bakufu”) that ruled Japan from “Edo” (today’s Tokyo) until 1863, was born in Okazaki Castle, near today’s Toyota City, in Aichi prefecture in 1543.

Akio Toyoda, current CEO of Toyota Motor Corporate (TMC) (ADR: NYSE:TM), great grandson of the of company’s founder, was born in 1956 in Nagoya, near Toyota City, the capital of Aichi prefecture.

The 260 year Tokugawa Period  (in Japan called the “Edo Period”) was one of internal and external peace, social stability, and flourishing Japanese art and culture, agriculture, and industry–the defining era in the development of Japanese civilization.  It was also a period during which the Tokugawas enforced a strict “isolation” policy, refusing all but severely limited contacts with foreign countries.

Read the rest of the story: Toyota’s “Shogun” CEO Akio Toyoda Determined to Save Japan’s Manufacturing Base.

Japan’s Automakers May Flee Strong Yen

The strong yen is forcing Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor to consider changes in production plans and alliance strategies, the top executives of both Japanese automakers said Thursday.

The yen, which hit a record high against the dollar in late October, has undercut profits for Toyota and Nissan, which both build vehicles in Japan for overseas markets.

To offset the strong yen, Toyota may “deepen alliances” with suppliers and dealers, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota, said during the opening of a Toyota plant in Mississippi that will build Corolla cars now being manufactured in Japan.

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Toyota Looks at Making Cars Outside Japan as Yen Causes ‘Difficult Time’

Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s biggest carmaker, may expand production outside Japan as the yen’s gains on currency markets reduce earnings.“We are struggling,” Chief Financial Officer Satoshi Ozawa said today in an interview at the automaker’s factory in Ovar, Portugal. “We are facing a difficult time. We have to reduce our production costs to compensate for the currency situation,” and that may involve shifting manufacturing from the home market of Japan “to some extent.”The euro’s decline since April to a decade low against the yen this month is reducing export earnings at the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker and competitors.

Read the rest of the story: Toyota Looks at Carmaking Abroad as Yen Causes ‘Difficult Time’.

Toyota probing Chinese charge of faulty parts

Toyota Motor Corp. said it is investigating after China said some of its models were made with broken or malfunctioning parts that caused accidents.

The Aug. 29 statement from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said malfunctioning brakes and broken drive shafts led to accidents that "caused many casualties" in the first half of the year.

The agency didn’t seek a recall and didn’t give details about the accidents it was referring to.

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Toyota offers noise device for Prius to improve safety

Toyota’s Prius hybrid is becoming a little less quiet with a new electronic humming device that is the automaker’s answer to complaints that pedestrians can’t hear the top-selling car approaching.

The 12,600 yen ($148) speaker system that goes under the hood of the third-generation Prius sets off a whirring sound designed to be about the same noise level as a regular car engine so that it isn’t annoying, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.

It goes on sale Aug. 30 in Japan, and owners pay extra for installation charges. Its use is voluntary.

Read the rest of the stroy: Toyota offers noise device for Prius for safety reasons.

Toyota in More Than a Sticky Situation Over Sticky Accelerators

The 911 call came at 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 28 from a car that was speeding out of control on Highway 125 near San Diego.

The wreckage of a Lexus ES 350 in which four people died in August after it accelerated out of control.

The caller, a male voice, was panic-stricken: “We’re in a Lexus … we’re going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck … we’re in trouble … there’s no brakes … we’re approaching the intersection … hold on … hold on and pray … pray …”

The call ended with the sound of a crash.

The Lexus ES 350 sedan, made by Toyota, had hit a sport utility vehicle, careened through a fence, rolled over and burst into flames. All four people inside were killed: the driver, Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, and his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.

It was the tragedy that forced Toyota, which had received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration, to step up its own inquiry, after going through multiple government investigations since 2002.

Yet only last week did the company finally appear to come to terms with the scope of the problem — after expanding a series of recalls to cover millions of vehicles around the world, incalculable damage to its once-stellar reputation for quality and calls for Congressional hearings.

Read the whole story at the NYTIMES.
Photo by: Rob!