TTAC (and just about everybody who comments on the Japanese market) saw it coming: After 14 months of government subsidies-induced growth, the Japanese car market took a corner. And now its nowhere but down. Japanese sales dropped 4.1 percent on the year to 308,663 units in September, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association told The Nikkei [sub]. This number does not include Kei cars, which will be published separately.
For the six months from April through September, car sales expanded 19.9 percent to 1.67 million.
And now, the abyss. The September number is harmless compared what is expected from October on out. There was a last mad dash on government money in the week of September, before the funds ran out and the program was stopped. The Nikkei [sub] reports that “dealership orders for Toyota vehicles, excluding Lexus models, were down by more than 40 percent as of Wednesday. The figure is expected to remain roughly the same with the inclusion of Thursday’s orders.”
High-end models and sport utility vehicles seem to suffer most. Subcompacts are still going strong, but orders for the Prius hybrid seem to have slowed. We”ll get the results when October registrations are in.