Major Japanese automakers are focusing on boosting their production bases in the U.S. to meet strong demand for Japanese cars and avoid trade disputes, reports Kyodo news service.

The Big Three of Japan, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, have shown strong U.S. sales in spite of high oil prices.

However there is possibility of trade friction between Japan and the United States and some industry analysts warn that Japanese carmakers could be singled out for criticism by U.S. makers suffering from weak sales.


Although Japanese carmakers are rapidly increasing their exports to the US, their local production ratios, or the ratios of their production in North America to total US sales, are decreasing.

Toyota’s local output ratio fell to 53.7 percent in 2006 from 61.9 percent in 2005, and Honda’s local output ratio declined to 77 percent from 80 percent.

Top Japanese carmakers expect more investment in U.S. production bases and to employ more locals for their factories to alleviate the U.S.-Japan trade gap. By doing so, they expect they can avoid trade disputes with the U.S. government.

Toyota regards increasing its production capacity in North America as one of its most important tasks.

Last year, Toyota opened its eighth auto assembly plant in the U.S. and also started vehicle production at a factory in Indiana, operated by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Furthermore, Toyota will add its ninth and tenth assembly plants in North America to beef up its output in North America.

Honda and Nissan are also going to increase the number of their assembly plants in the US to avoid trade friction.

Japanese car exports to the United States in 2006 increased 34 percent from the previous year to 2.49 million units while the main U.S. automakers, GM, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler group, decreased their combined share in the U.S. to just above 50 percent.