Roger Schreffler


Roger keeps tabs on the Japanese auto industry, specializing in coverage of manufacturing and advanced technology.

Imports Into Japan Keep Growing in First-Half 2013
Volkswagen was the best-selling foreign brand, followed by Mercedes and BMW. The top U.S. brands were Jeep and Ford, ranked 13th and 14th overall.
Japanese Auto Makers Rule Global Hybrid, EV Markets
Toyota has been cool toward EV technology, believing fuel-cell vehicles offer a better long-term solution to global warming. But the No.1 hybrid maker nevertheless launched all-electric versions of the Scion iQ and RAV4 in 2012.
Hybrid Technology Headlines Japan SAE Conference 
Transmission giant JATCO is expanding production capacity by building a second plant in Mexico, while rival Aisin plans to open two new facilities in China by the end of 2014.
Infiniti Launches Q50 Output, Begins Global Expansion Drive
Growth is expected to come in part from an expanding product portfolio that will include a new compact model in 2015 and a car above the top-of-the-line Q70.
Japanese Auto Makers Charge Ahead With New Battery Technologies
Following Toyota’s strategy of bringing technical improvements to market as soon as they are ready, Nissan cut 175 lbs. from the first-generation Leaf by redesigning the electric powertrain and modifying the battery’s structure.
Auto Industry Still Driving Toward Fuel Cell-Powered Future
Executives from Japan’s Toyota, Nissan and Honda, along with those from Germany’s Daimler and Korea’s Hyundai, confirm plans to commercialize fuel-cell vehicles in 2015.
Researcher Bullish on Near-Term Outlook for Japan Big Three 
Deep cuts in the industry’s cost structure have substantially lowered the exchange-rate breakeven point, says analyst Chris Richter. “The level of profitability they could have achieved in 2008 at $1:¥115 they can now achieve at $1:¥100 or even $1:¥95.
Mazda President Guides Auto Maker to Profitable Independence
Given its recent history, it’s almost unimaginable that Mazda finds itself on track to report a ¥45 billion profit for the fiscal year ended March 31 and, if analysts are correct, set to double earnings for fiscal 2013 and possibly triple them in 2014.
Japan Records Higher Trade Surplus in 2012 
Exports, both in vehicles and parts, reached ¥12.4 trillion in 2012, up 8.9% from the previous year’s ¥11.2 trillion total.
Shifting Exchange Rates Foretell Japan-Korea Auto Makers’ Fortunes
A Goldman Sachs report predicts Japanese auto makers will see 50% growth in operating profits for the fiscal year beginning in April, while Korea’s leading brands are expected to report an average 2% decline.
Nissan to Play Bigger Role in Southeast Asian Markets 
The auto maker, a relative latecomer to the region, hopes to boost its market share to 15% in fiscal 2016 when its Power 88 business plan is fully implemented. Nissan’s fiscal-2011 share was about 10%.
Mazda High on Skyactiv Powertrain Potential
President Takashi Yamanouchi predicts Skyactiv models will account for more than 30% of Mazda’s global sales in second-half fiscal 2013, followed by 50% in fiscal 2014 and 80% in fiscal 2015.
Bridgestone Tire Comes Full Circle 25 Years After Buying Firestone in 1988
Bridgestone closed the Firestone deal in March 1998, beating out its European rivals. The makeup of the global tire industry would never be the same, as one by one competitors followed with their own acquisitions and mergers.
Mitsubishi Back on Track to Reach Near-Record Earnings for 2012 
Osamu Masuko assumed the presidency in June 2005 after DaimlerChrysler withdrew its equity holdings and management team. He inherited an auto maker that had run up losses of nearly ¥225.4 billion in the two previous fiscal years.
Feisty Subaru Boosting U.S. Production Capacity
President and CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga says that despite “exceedingly difficult” exchange rates, U.S. earnings have increased because the auto maker has improved its product mix.
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