Japanese auto become more popular

Global production climbed at Japan's top automakers in December, with the country's top auto manufacturer Toyota Motor Corp. leading the way, the companies said Thursday. Toyota, the world's second biggest automaker after General Motors Corp., reported global production of 596,481 vehicles in December, up 17.8 percent from a year ago.

Its domestic production rose 15.7 percent while overseas output jumped 20.2 percent. For all of 2005, Toyota produced 7.360 million vehicles, up 9.5 percent from 2004. Japanese cars and trucks continue to sell well around the globe due to their reliability and fuel-efficiency.

Nissan Motor Co., the nation's second-largest automaker, reported a 7.7 percent rise in December global production to 246,322 vehicles, with domestic production rising 10.8 percent and overseas output climbing 5.5 percent.

Nissan's output in the United States, however, fell 10.0 percent to 55,310 vehicles amid slower sales of the Xterra sport utility vehicles and other models, the Tokyo-based company said. For the whole of last year, the Nissan's global production totaled 3.508 million vehicles, up 9.4 percent.

At Honda Motor Co., global production rose 0.8 percent to 266,243 vehicles in December. Production in Japan dropped 9.0 percent while overseas output climbed 7.9 percent. Honda said its global production in 2005 posted a 7.2 percent to 3.409 million vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Hiroshima-based Mazda Motor Corp.'s global production surged 8.2 percent to 101,774 vehicles last month. Domestic production rose 12.6 percent, offsetting its overseas output, which dropped 2.1 percent.

For 2005, domestic output from Mazda, 33 percent owned by U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co., rose 5.6 percent to 864,929 vehicles. Overseas output fell 10.9 percent to 281,216 vehicles. Global production at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said its global production rose 8.1 percent to 113,334 vehicles in December. Domestic production picked up 24.4 percent while overseas output fell 6.2 percent.

Mitsubishi's worldwide production last year slipped 3.6 percent to 1.362 million vehicles, reports the AP. N.U.