Eight major Japanese automakers’ combined overseas production in May climbed 39.1% to 1,001,273 vehicles, exceeding the May 2008 level of 991,573 units before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings, according to the automakers.

The growth in overseas output was attributable to increasing production in China (at all bar Honda) and other emerging economies and recovering output in North America.

However, the eight automakers’ domestic production stayed at about 70% of the level before Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008.

By automaker, overseas output rose 49.2% to 229,857 vehicles at Nissan Motor, 17.6% to 149,010 at Suzuki and 51.6% to 12,120 units at Toyota unit Daihatsu Motor, all record highs for the month of May.

Honda saw a 43.2% rise to 203,955 units but production in China fell 15.7% to 37,367 units due to strikes at auto parts plants for the first year-on-year fall in 12 months.

Honda’s sales in China decreased 10.1% to 40,275 vehicles, marking the first year-on-year fall in 14 months.

Domestic sales increased for all eight automakers, with industry leader Toyota logging a 38.5% rise to 114,146 vehicles.

The eight automakers’ combined domestic sales gained 21.4% to 335,409 vehicles, nearing the May 2008 level of 336,392 units, Kyodo News noted.

Their combined domestic production rose 28.5% to 676,908 vehicles but fell short of the May 2008 level of 880,475 vehicles.

Their combined exports rose 43.3% to 320,633 vehicles but came far below the May 2008 level of 502,068 vehicles.