By on June 1, 2011

Sales of new cars, trucks and buses in Japan dropped 37.8 percent from a year earlier in May, data released by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association show. It could have been worse.

Sales totaled 142,154 vehicles in May, falling for the eighth consecutive month. Market observers had expected a steeper fall. After the March 11 earthquake, production in Japan had stopped pretty much until Mid April and resumed very cautiously at a low level. These numbers do not include mini vehicles, which are kept by another association. Combined with  mini vehicles, new vehicles sales in Japan dropped 33.4 percent to a total of 237,364 vehicles, Reuters writes.

May ’11 May ’10 Change
Daihatsu 107 495 -78.4%
Hino 1,078 1,878 -42.6%
Honda 21,294 32,524 -34.5%
Isuzu 1,648 3,066 -46.2%
Lexus 1,789 1,889 -5.3%
Mazda 8,510 13,539 -37.1%
Mitsubishi 4,059 4,266 -4.9%
Mitsubishi Fuso 894 1,573 -43.2%
Nissan 28,037 33,406 -16.1%
Subaru 5,622 4,775 17.7%
Suzuki 5,434 4,267 27.3%
Toyota 48,733 112,174 -56.6%
UD Trucks 323 769 -58.0%
Other 14,626 13,893 5.3%
Total 142,154 228,514 -37.8%

Three factors appear to be in play here:

  • Japanese production slowly sputtered back to life in May.
  • The pull-forward effect of last year’s subsidies is slowly being digested.
  • Some of the shortfall was compensated by higher imports.

Sales of imported cars rose 31 percent. Without the help of imports, the numbers would have been uglier. Made-in-Japan cars alone recorded a drop of 42.5 percent. Imports held a (for Japan) humongous share of 13.5 percent in May.

In June, the numbers will most likely improve. The Japanese car industry recovers faster than thought. Today, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco confirmed to TTAC that the company will be at 90 percent capacity in June in Japan. Overseas, the situation remains unchanged.


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