08/30/2011 03:49 EDT | Updated 10/29/2011 05:12 EDT

Global production down at Japanese automakers in July but Nissan bucks trend

TOKYO - Most Japanese automakers reported lacklustre vehicle production and sales for July, underscoring ongoing malaise in the industry as it grapples with a strong yen, precarious global economy and recovery from the March 11 tsunami.

Worldwide production at Toyota Motor Corp. fell 6.1 per cent from a year earlier to 594,614 vehicles, the company said Tuesday. Its domestic sales of passenger cars, trucks and buses tumbled more than 35 per cent, and exports fell 5 per cent due to weaker shipments to North America.

Toyota, however, said its production returned to levels that were near to what it had planned before the March earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's northeastern coast, wiping out auto parts suppliers.

The automaker is preparing to ramp up production in the coming months to make up for the capacity lost to the disaster. Between October and March 2012, the automaker plans to build an extra 350,000 vehicles.

The numbers were worse at Honda Motor Co., where global production tumbled more than 34 per cent to 206,727 vehicles in July. It was the sixth straight month of decline.

Honda's domestic sales of vehicles fell 31.5 per cent and exports retreated more than 19 per cent.

Standing above the crowd was Nissan Motor Co., which continued to gain momentum and set company records in July.

The Yokohama-based automaker recorded an almost 18 per cent jump in worldwide output to 388,680 vehicles — its best-ever July performance. Production in the U.S. benefited from stronger demand for the Altima sedan, Nissan said.

Although Nissan's Japan sales fell 17 per cent in volume terms, global sales overall rose 8 per cent. Exports surged more than 23 per cent.

Among Japan's other car makers, Suzuki Motor Corp. posted a 3.6 per cent decline in global production to 228,147 vehicles.

Worldwide output at Mazda Motor Corp. fell almost 13 per cent to 103,384 vehicles. At Mitsubishi Motors Corp., it declined about 5 per cent to 97,862 vehicles.