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Toyota Says Plan To Sell GM Cars Stalled

October 7, 1992

TOKYO (AP) _ Months after promising President Bush that U.S. auto sales would rise in Japan, Toyota and General Motors have made no progress toward selling GM cars through Toyota dealers, the auto giants say.

When Bush visited Tokyo in January with a delegation of U.S. auto industry and other business leaders, vowing to boost U.S. sales and jobs, Toyota announced a plan to sell 5,000 GM cars a year in Japan.

It was part of a wider promise by Japanese auto makers to buy 20,000 more U.S. cars a year, double purchases of U.S. auto parts and relax car inspection standards.

But the promises have been hindered by problems, including the No. 1 U.S. auto maker’s relationship with a company that already sells GM cars in Japan, said Hiroshi Hashimoto, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest auto maker.

″Since we have promised, Toyota wants to make a positive approach, but we haven’t made a step forward,″ Hashimoto said Tuesday. Hashimoto said Japanese customers used to certain features in Japanese models may have problems accepting GM cars.

Tatsuro Toyoda, Toyota’s president, told the mass-circulation newspaper Asahi that GM’s 70-year-old ties with auto importer Yanase and Co. are hindering his company’s efforts to fulfill its pledge.

″I think it would be easier both for us and GM″ if GM continued selling its car through Yanase, Asahi quoted Toyoda as saying.

Last year, 9,300 GM cars were imported to Japan, including about 5,500 through Yanase and about 100 through Suzuki Motor Corp., both authorized GM distributors.

Toyota has a wider sales network, but Toyota sales of GM cars still could conflict with Yanase’s business.

″How Toyota can contribute to GM is largely up to its relations with Yanase,″ Hashimoto said. ″This is not something that can be accomplished by efforts by Toyota alone.″

″It’s hard to make all three parties happy,″ acknowledged Yoshiaki Kanno, GM’s public affairs manager in Japan.

Kanno said that with no agreement so far on how the interests of all three can be served, there has been no decision on what GM models might be sold through Toyota dealers.

Meanwhile, Seibu Motor Sales Co. has announced it will begin distributing Cherokee models for U.S. auto maker Chrysler. Seibu said it would sell 1,500 of the Jeeps a year through its 10 sales divisions and 52 authorized dealers.

Chrysler cars have been sold in Japan through Chrysler Japan, Honda and imported car dealers. Honda sold 437 of the Jeeps last year, and has a target of 800 for 1992.

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