New car sales in Japan for the month of April dropped 51.0 percent from the previous year as vehicle manufacturers felt the full impact of the March 11 quake in the country that disrupted a great part of the car production.
Specifically, vehicle sales in the country fell to 108,824 units last month, excluding the 660cc microcars, with market leader Toyota Motor Corp. achieving the worst performance with a drop of 69 percent. The shrinking of the market in Japan marked the largest ever decrease when it comes to monthly car sales. It was also the lowest recorded volume since records commenced in January 1968.
Available data on Monday revealed that when 660cc vehicles are put into the calculation, new car sales in Japan, which is the third largest vehicle market in the world, decreased 47.3 percent to 185,673 units.
Despite these records, General Manager Michiro Saito at the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA), which compiles the data for the non-mini vehicles, stated that these results don’t indicate that the company has hit bottom. He also said that sales will continue to decrease for the rest of 2011 considering that as of the moment, there are vehicle manufacturers who are operating at only 50 percent of their capacity.
With the March 11 disaster destroying much of the country’s northeastern seaboard and disrupting the supply chain for hundreds of components, market leaders Honda Motor Co., Toyota, and Nissan Motor Co. were forced to reduce their production all over the world.
Honda and Toyota have previously announced that they will return to full production within six months, at least. On the other hand, Nissan has not yet specified a timeframe as to when it can bring its operations to pre-quake levels.
With the Japan-based vehicle manufacturers affected by the March 11 disaster, imports led by Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG are picking up. In fact, Japan sees a growth of 42.8 percent in the sales of imported vehicles, including some local brands created overseas. Specifically, there were 16,627 imported vehicles sold in April.