In late August of 2012, Supply Chain Matters raised awareness to Japan based automotive OEM Honda and its plans to shift a major portion of its export production capability from North America instead of from Japan.  We updated readers on the interim results this strategy in a July 2013 posting.

The motivations for Honda were the continued appreciation of the Japanese yen and the risk implications of the 2011 devastating earthquake and tsunami that stuck Northern Japan. Honda’s long-term plans included the ability to ship 200,000 to 300,000 autos from North America to global export markets in addition to satisfying U.S. domestic demand.

This week, business media is reporting an update from Honda indicating that its U.S. vehicle production export activity exceeded its rate of Japanese imports for the first time. Honda exported 108,705 U.S. made vehicles to 50 countries in 2013. That compared to importing 88,537 vehicles produced in Japan for U.S. consumer fulfillment. Overall, Honda produced 1.3 million vehicles across seven production facilities in the U.S. This milestone indicates good progress toward the ultimate goal for exporting upwards of 300,000 vehicles.

As reinforcement to this U.S. export strategy, Nissan indicated that it exported 100,608 vehicles from its U.S. based factories in 2013, an increase of 37 percent from 2012. The Japan based OEM is also in the process of moving additional production of models to the U.S. including the Murano sport utility model.

As we have previously noted, the implication in these shifting manufacturing export trends is that U.S. automotive supply chains must now cater to the product-unique needs of certain export markets and there lies the importance of global product platform development strategies.  However, there is a stark need to dynamically plan and respond to constantly changing and different geographic market scenarios. An industry that traditionally does not have tendencies to invest in more sophisticated business planning, end-to-end supply chain visibility, control tower and more predictive capabilities has the most to benefit from these capabilities.