Japan Car Sales Plunge to Record Low

Steven Bobson, Europe & Americas Editor
May 03, 2011 /

Japanese car sales plunged to a 43-year record low in April as the car supply chain was broken because of the March 11 earthquake/tsunami.

According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA), the sales of vehicles excluding 660cc microcars in Japan fell by 51 percent compared last year, with market tycoon Toyota Motor Corp. showing the worst performance through a 69 percent drop.

The amount is a 37 percent decline from March this year, where domestic sales totaled 108,824.

After the March 11 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, Japanese companies Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. were forced to slash global production as the calamity cut off the delivery of hundreds of car components supposedly to be used for production.

In contrast, sales in Japan of imported cars, which include domestic brands made overseas, grew 42.8 percent in April to 16,627 units.

Despite the low figure, JADA General Manager Michiro Saito believes that in the current situation, Japan didn’t hit the bottom.

He also said that automakers are producing only 50 percent of initial plans today and it will likely continue to drop for the rest of the year.

Toyota and Honda said that they will return to full production at least six months from now. Nissan, on the other hand, has not yet specified its time frame for recovery.

Meanwhile, enjoying the benefits of the Japan calamity right now are┬áSouth Korea’s Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors.

Hyundai’s global sales grew by 9.7 percent to 340,647 in April, while Kia’s sales rose 17.8 percent to 205,603.

Both companies are expected to post a record-high market share in the US for April.


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