TOKYO -- Boosted by hybrid vehicles, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. increased shipments to North America in the first quarter ended March 31.
The export of 23,340 Toyota Prius hybrids to North America during the quarter accounted for more than 10 percent of Toyota's entire shipments to that region.
Toyota's second-quarter exports likely will accelerate with even more hybrids.
The Lexus RX 400h SUV arrived in the United States in April, and the Highlander SUV hybrid will follow in June.
Hybrids use an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors.
Toyota's overall exports to North America for the quarter rose 13.1 percent from the year-ago period.
At Honda, the Accord hybrid drove brisk exports to North America. The automaker's North American exports jumped 19.6 percent in the first quarter.
A redesigned Civic hybrid arrives this fall.
Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. curbed North American exports.
Nissan shifted production of the Pathfinder SUV to the Smyrna, Tenn., plant from Japan, contributing to a 12.6 percent drop in Nissan's exports to North America.
Mazda's production was reduced because of a December fire at its Ujina No. 1 factory in Tokyo.
As a result, exports of the MPV, RX-8 and Miata fell during the first quarter.
Overall, Mazda's North American exports were 19.0 percent below the first quarter of 2004.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s exports to North America rose 3.5 percent.
Overall, Japan's shipments to North America during the first quarter rose 4.4 percent over the first quarter of 2004 to 445,827. That includes 396,427 to the United States, up 3.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Japan's exports to Europe were off 2.1 percent to 295,282. Exports from Toyota, Honda and Mazda rose, but Nissan and Mitsubishi lost ground.
Japanese exports to China plunged by 70.3 percent, to 10,540, because of increasing local production.
Overall, Japan's exports for the first quarter rose 1.8 percent to 1,211,208. That helped raise Japan's overall production during that period by 3.8 percent to 2,875,302.
Output at Toyota, Nissan and Honda expanded, but production at Mazda and Mitsubishi declined.
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