The Japanese auto industry is expressing cautious optimism for auto sales growth in Japan this year, according to Japan Auto Trends the newsletter of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA). Within Japan, auto industry forecasts predict a 2.2% growth in car and truck sales. Last year car and truck sales grew about 2%.

This industry optimism stems in part from signs that Japanese consumers are ready to begin buying again. “The past year saw year-on-year growth in domestic sales for the first time in four years,” said Hiroshi Okuda, Chairman of JAMA and the Toyota Motor Corporation.

Pointing to the fact that non-Japanese auto companies have recently purchased equity in many of the Japanese companies, William C. Duncan, General Director of JAMA’s Washington office, said “The fortunes of GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, and Renault are now tied to Japan’s market as Japanese companies are tied to the U.S. market.”

Duncan added that, “No longer do companies rise or fall in separate markets independent of each other. The Japanese and U.S. auto industries are now in the same sea and in many cases in the same boat pulling the same oars. These companies are more likely to rise and fall together!”

The newsletter’s quarterly “Executive Highlights” section features Yoshinori IDA, new President and Chief Operating Officer of Isuzu Motors Ltd. Ida wants to expand Isuzu’s diesel engine business and add a new vehicle model in the U.S. market. He also plans to slash procurement costs 30% over the next two years.

“We need to speed things up here. We have no time to waste. Once decided, we must act quickly,” Ida told Japan Auto Trends.

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