Following last week’s news that Toyota has begun exports of its Sienna minivan from the US to South Korea for the first time, rival carmaker Honda has stated it is considering the export of more vehicles from the US to the country rather than moving them from neighbouring Japan.
Exports from Japan are less cost-competitive and profitable because of the strength of the yen, while the new free trade agreement between the US and South Korea provides an added incentive. However, according to a spokesman for Honda North America, currency is not a basis for export planning.
“Our business plan is based on many things, but currency isn't one of them. When we export a vehicle from a particular plant, we do it profitably so that it helps the business plan of that particular plant, and thus the company,” he told Automotive Logistics. “Of course, we want to grow our customer base, so that also is a goal. But chasing currency fluctuations around the globe is a fool's errand.”
That said, Asian brands such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda are aiming to export around 200,000 units each from the US over the next few years as they look to leverage the weakness of the dollar versus the strength of the yen.
Last month Honda was reported to be planning a halving of vehicle exports from Japan over the next decade in an effort to tackle damaging currency fluctuations that have hit the company with the rise of the yen.
Honda currently exports 37% of its Japanese output but has already stated it plans to reduce this to between 10-20% and sell between 80-90% of vehicles from local production in its various markets around the world.
Likewise, Nissan Motor said earlier this year that it was cutting exports from Japan by a third in a new strategy designed to boost domestic sales and reduce the impact of the strong yen, which is hitting the company’s profits.
Meanwhile, Toyota’s decision to use the port of Hueneme in Southern California in September for US exports of the Sienna minivan with NYK also confirms a trend the port is seeing for more export activity and less imports.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, which is based at the port and has a vehicle processing centre in nearby Oxnard, said recently that it was expecting strong growth for exports from the US, led by Japanese manufacturers (read more here).