Japan Carmaker Sales Soar While Chip Dearth Weighs on Production


Japanese automaker sales soared in April on rising demand for cars in China and the U.S. but production slipped from pre-pandemic levels, pointing to the emergence of a gap between supply and demand that’s likely to grow worse as a global shortage of automotive semiconductors drags on.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s global sales rose 103% to 859,448 units in April, a record, the company said in a statement Friday. The world’s largest automaker cited particularly strong demand in America and China for models like its Rav4. Nissan Motor Co.’s global April sales rose 65% to 358,656 units while Honda Motor Co.’s domestic sales were up 106% to 47,817 units.

Production numbers tell a slightly different story. In April, Toyota made 761,459 cars, about double a year earlier when the pandemic was just forcing global automakers to suspend factory lines. But compared with the same month two years ago, prior to Covid, production was down slightly. Nissan and Honda’s April production figures were down 29% and 7% respectively versus 2019.

Automakers around the globe are beginning to grapple with the reality of being unable to fully capitalize on swiftly recovering demand for cars due to a lingering shortage of semiconductors. The shortage is estimated to knock millions off of global sales this year.

These circumstances are leading to tight inventories for some automakers like Toyota, said Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst Tatsuo Yoshida. Toyota has been relatively unscathed by the chip shortage to date thanks to its sturdy supply-chain-management practices, but its production lines may feel the crunch in June and July, according to Carnorama analyst Takeshi Miyao.

Speaking at a briefing earlier this month, Toyota Chief Financial Officer Kenta Kon said the company doesn’t foresee the chip shortage impacting its operations in a major way.

Nissan said it expects the chip shortage to knock about 500,000 units off its production this fiscal year, though it hopes to make up about half of that lost output in the latter half.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.