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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

A first: Honda's U.S. output tops Japan's

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A first: Honda's U.S. output tops Japan's

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

For the first time in its history, Honda Motor Co. built more vehicles in the United States during the April-June quarter than it did in Japan.

Honda, the first Japanese company to build a car factory in the United States, said its U.S. output totaled 236,819 vehicles in its fiscal first quarter. It produced 236,559 vehicles in Japan in the same period, according to a quarterly production report.

Spokesman David Iida confirmed today that it was the first time that Honda's U.S. vehicle output had exceeded Japan's during a full quarter.

For the first six months of 2010, Honda's Japanese output of 491,024 vehicles surpassed the U.S. total of 480,913 vehicles.

Company officials said Honda has steadily increased its local output, not just in the U.S. but in other regions.

The proportion of Honda vehicles sold in the U.S. that are produced in North America reached 90 percent in the first six months of 2010, Iida said.

In all of North America, Honda's output totaled 322,260 vehicles in the first quarter of the fiscal year begun April 1.

"In the long term, there are more growth opportunities in the United States than there are in Japan," said analyst Jesse Toprak at TrueCar.com in Santa Monica, Calif.

"There's not much growth in Japan, where there's a population decline. In the United States, sales can only get better."

But the fastest growth will occur in emerging markets, he said.

Benefiting from robust sales in the U.S. and Asia, Honda reported strong first-quarter earnings last week. The Tokyo-based automaker reported a steep rise in net profit, to 272.4 billion yen, or $3.2 billion, from 7.5 billion yen, or $81 million, a year ago. It also increased its earnings forecast for the year.

Japan's automakers are profiting from rebounding demand across Asia and in Japan. Honda, the world's leading motorcycle manufacturer, also is benefitting from brisk motorcycle sales in emerging markets.

Honda initially produced motorcycles in the U.S. after building a plant in Marysville, Ohio, in 1979. It began auto production in Ohio three years later.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100803/AUTO01/8030422/1148/auto01/A-first--Honda-s-U.S.-output-tops-Japan-s#ixzz0vaJEzclv

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