Japan’s major automakers trim global sales forecasts

Kodaira in Tokyo

Kodaira in Tokyo

Last week, Honda trimmed its sales outlook for the current fiscal, and we recommended to expect similar moves from its Japanese major maker peers when their numbers are in. The numbers are in, and luckily for us, but sadly for the major maker peers, they all had to trim their forecast.

Yesterday, Nissan reported profits that were much better than those in the same quarter last year. Good for them, because observers will recall that last year’s quarter had resulted in a major management reshuffle. With this quarter’s operating profits up 22.4 percent, and net profits increasing 15.8 percent, job security in Nissan’s C-suite appears to be high. Nevertheless, the cold winds of deteriorating business environments pretty much anywhere than the U.S. made Nissan trim its current fiscal sales target by some 200,000 units.

Today at Toyota, more of the same. Operating income for the quarter up 11.4 percent. Net income at frugal Toyota up 23 percent. Global group sales outlook trimmed by 150,000 units to 10.1 million – for the fiscal year going from April to March, not for the calendar year. (If you read elsewhere that sales of 9 million are targeted, don’t get confused. Those are without the Chinese joint ventures.)

The revised target caused excitement some 5,600 miles away in Wolfsburg Germany, where Volkswagen has been plotting the takeover of the leadership of the world’s car market for many years. Last week, Volkswagen confirmed that the company is well on track to sell more than 10 million units this year, a fact that comes as no surprise to readers of these pages.

With the competition breathing down their necks, one would imagine that Toyota execs scour the world for new factory sites, but one would be mistaken, again. Like at every quarter in the not too distant past, Toyota reiterated that all factory expansion plans are on hold until March 2016, and what comes thereafter must be “carefully studied,” as Executive Vice President Nobuyori Kodaira said today.

Toyota should have enough money in the piggy bank to pay for a few new plants. For this fiscal, the company expects net profits of 2 trillion yen ($18 billion.)