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Toyota's global vehicle output falls in September

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's global production fell in September for the first time in a year, while rivals Honda and Nissan increased output thanks to strong demand in China.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday its worldwide production dropped 1.3 percent to 672,604 vehicles, marking the first year-on-year decrease in 12 months. The world's No. 1 automaker said the fall was due to weak production in Europe and North America.

Toyota's production in Europe sank 29.7 percent to 40,630 vehicles due to sluggish sales in Britain and Turkey. The company's output in North America slipped 4.1 percent year-on-year to 122,649 vehicles in September.

The fall in North American production was due to declining output in the United States after Toyota closed its auto plant -- a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors Co.-- in California in April.

But Toyota's rivals enjoyed rising growth in output because of strong demand in China. Honda Motor Co. said its global production in September rose 9.2 percent to 328,368 vehicles, up for the 10th consecutive month.

Honda -- Japan's No. 2 automaker -- said production in Japan jumped 21.9 percent thanks to soaring demand for the company's energy-efficient Fit subcompact.

Honda launched the hybrid version of the popular Fit in early October. The Fit hybrid went on sale in Japan with a price tag of 1.59 million yen ($19,700) -- the cheapest of Honda's gasoline-electric cars.

Nissan Motor Co. said its worldwide production grew 27.2 percent to 395,658 vehicles in September, marking the 20th consecutive month of year-on-year increase. Nissan said its production in China rose 24.3 percent and gained 31 percent in the United States.

Mazda Motor Corp. said its global production climbed 9.4 percent to 117,413 vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said its worldwide output jumped 30.9 percent to 114,191 vehicles.

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