Japan's automakers to cut prices

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Japan's largest automakers plan to raise prices and establish US subsidiaries to curb trade friction and help American car producers out of their worst slump in 50 years, industry sources said Thursday.

Sources close to Nissan Motor company, Japan's No. 2 automaker, said its price increase will range between 5 and 10 percent, effective in early August.

Nissan president Takashi Ishihara reportedly told the international trade and industry minister, Rokusuke Tanaka, that the increase "would level off exports to last year's level, if not bringing about a small fall" from the 1979 level in cars sold to the United States.

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Nissan has exported an average of 56,000 passenger cars monthly to the US this year, up 64 percent from 1979 levels. Industry sources said the company's monthly exports for August may decrease to about 48,000 of the fuel-efficient units.

The Nissan move is expected to be followed by other major car manufacturers, including Toyota Motor Company, Japans' No. 1 Automaker.

Industry sources said the Japanese price increases will be timed with the introduction of small cars by Ford and Chrysler this fall and thus reduce some of the Japanese comeptitive edge.

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