September 16 2004. TOKYO (Nikkei)--Japan's motorcycle makers are expanding exports from their production bases in China as part of a common strategy to take advantage of the low manufacturing costs there and compete directly with their Chinese counterparts, who are aggressively selling low-priced bikes in Asia as well as Central and South America.

Suzuki Motor Corp. (7269) has redesigned a 125cc motorcycle originally intended for the Chinese market and begun producing it at a partner plant in Jiangmen for export to Indonesia. Until now, the company has shipped motorcycles from China mainly to such places as Mexico and Brazil. Its exports in 2003 totaled around 35,000 units, but that number is expected to reach about 100,000 in 2004.

Yamaha Motor Co. (7272) recently began exporting 125cc motorcycles to Turkey from its joint venture in Chongqing. In addition to the 10,000 vehicles that it plans to ship annually to Turkey, the firm is considering making a model that meets stricter emission controls and can be exported to European Union nations starting in or after 2005.

Honda Motor Co. (7267) already exports roughly 170,000 motorcycles each year from China, including those shipped to Japan, Turkey and Central and South America. The company plans to nearly double that figure to around 300,000 units a year between now and 2007.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Thursday morning edition)