TOKYO - Despite building factories and creating new vehicles around the world, Toyota Motor Corp. has missed its aggressive three-year plan to reduce Japanese exports.
Toyota had vowed that by 1998, overseas production would account for 65 percent of overseas sales. But last year closed with non-Japanese factories delivering just 52 percent of sales outside Japan.
Toyota set the target for itself in June 1995 as part of its 'New Global Business Plan.' The plan was released then to help defuse U.S.-Japanese trade tensions and forestall threatened sanctions by Washington on Japanese luxury cars.
ASIAN CRISIS CUT PROGRESS
But after three years of expanding its U.S., Canadian, European and Asian factories, Toyota said, its Japanese plants still supplied 48 percent of its overseas sales - down slightly from the 52 percent they delivered the year before Toyota declared its target.
Toyota spokesman Kohei Muramatsu said the key factor working against Toyota's plan was the economic crisis in Asia. Depressed markets in Thailand and other Asian countries kept Toyota from building as many vehicles there as it had forecast. Asian production was a big part of Toyota's non-Japanese factory plan.
Another surprise was the roaring U.S. auto market, which has demanded more exports from Japanese factories than expected, Muramatsu said.
MOST GOALS REACHED
The 1995 business plan set a number of goals with a target date of 1998. The automaker concluded in a newly released final report on the plan that it had attained most of those goals. Toyota does not plan to make public a new set of targets.
It achieved its target of selling more Volkswagen cars in Japan through its Duo network of Toyota-affiliated dealers.
On the other hand, it fell short of its goal to import more American-made cars, including Toyota models and the General Motors-built Cavalier.
Meanwhile, Toyota met or surpassed all of its targets for creating factory capacity abroad, with new or expanded plants in the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. It also built factories in India and Latin America, which went beyond the 1995 plan.
In 1998, Toyota's North Amer-ican plants supplied 63 percent of local sales. Its plant in the United Kingdom supplied 35 percent of European sales, and local production in the Asia-Oceania region delivered 58 percent of sales there.
Toyota also met most of its targets for expanding parts production outside Japan and for increasing the use of locally made parts abroad. Many of its stated goals for increasing access for foreign parts makers did not include numerical targets, however.