By on February 25, 2009

All day, Japanese carmakers have been issuing January production and sales numbers. They are horrible. Three makers report production reductions of around 60 percent. Mazda and Mitsubishi reported export reduction of over 70 percent. There is a bloodbath in the making in the land of the cherry blossom.

Honda posted year-on-year falls in domestic production and sales, exports and overseas output in January, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Domestically, production fell 23 percent to 77,224 vehicles and sales slid 23.4 percent to 34,160 units, both marking the third consecutive month of decline. Exports dropped by 46.3 percent to 32,934 units and overseas production tumbled 37.9 percent to 149,327 vehicles, both down for the fourth straight month. Compared to others, Honda is doing fairly well, especially due to its burgeoning motorcycle business in the 3rd world.  And that was the good news . . . .

Mitsubishi Motors’ Japanese domestic output in January plunged 65 percent on the year to 25,392 units, marking the third straight month of decline, the Nikkei [sub] says. Mitsubishi Motors’ sales in the home market shrank for the 17th consecutive month, dropping 36.3 percent to 9,663 units. Exports tumbled 77.4 percent to 12,936 units, for the third straight month of decline. Overseas output retreated 35.3 percent to 27,947 units, down for the 11th straight month.

Mazda’s January domestic production evaporated 66.2 percent from a year earlier to 31,130 units, the third consecutive month of decline. This according to the Nikkei [sub]. Mazda exported 20,207 vehicles in the month, down 72.1 percent and also the third straight month of decline. Domestic sales fell by 29.1 percent to 14,953 units and overseas production plunged 52.2 percent to 14,418 units, both down for the fourth straight month.

Toyota‘s Japanese domestic output plunged 40.3% year-on-year to 209,224 units, marking  the sixth straight month of decline, the Nikkei [sub] writes. Toyota’s January exports plunged 56.2% to 91,209 vehicles, the fourth consecutive month of decline. Domestic sales fell 23.4% to 83,311 units and overseas production fell 44.8% to 204,061 units, both down for the sixth straight month.

Nissan’s Japanese domestic output cratered 59% year on year to 47,477 units in January, the fourth straight month of decline, says the Nikkei [sub]. Domestic sales fell 24.6% to 41,768 vehicles, marking the sixth consecutive month of decline. Exports slid for the fourth month in a row, down 62.1% to 27,578 units, while overseas output fell for the sixth straight month, down 51.2% to 97,809 units.

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24 Comments on “Japan’s January Carmageddon: Poof Goes The Dragon...”


  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    All round bad figures. (Not sure about the choice of illustration, in these PC times.)

    No one is buying new cars, and everyone is waiting for a bargain from desperate car makers who need revenue.

  • avatar

    I know, but I’m a bad boy.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Errr….. Bertel….. Would you be expecting any complaints about the pic? Perhaps you could go for a Bikini Test, rather than something that might be mistaken for rather close to home.

  • avatar
    niky

    I’m part japanese, and I’m offended to death by the picture. Keep it. :)

    News is, as expected, bad. What’s unexpected is how bad it is, and how resilient Honda is proving in its home market… guess the rapid expansion is hurting Toyota, but their reputation for quality is keeping them slightly clear of the carnage others are experiencing, too.

  • avatar

    My wife is Japanese .. she vets the pictures. She frowned a bit …. She said: “Keep it, bad boy.”

  • avatar

    @PeteMoran: If I would do Bikini Tests, that would create domestic problems ….

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Well, no worries then.

    I vote for a picture of collapsing WTCs for the future implosion of GM, and a picture of Birkenau for the bankruptcy of Cerberus (or most of Wall Street).

    EDIT: Cross posting with you Bertel. Bikini…LOL, being Australian we don’t think about them… MUCH.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    At least the Dragon keeps the expertize how to build the cars, so to say oriental kung-fu in product stamping. Unlike Detroit which will be left in the ring with a telephone book, to call Korea, Germany or the same Japan to beg for some martial moves instructions. Americans tend to forget that a good fight is about expertize and productive moves, not the colour of Kimono.
    And when the hell will China get enough tired of byuing US treasuries, and show the dollar its due place?Mao, dump the dollar, start the cascade. It is inevitable!

  • avatar

    Most of the output and export numbers are due to Japans DRASTIC reduction, such as not to bloat inventories more. They expect them to be back to more manageable levels in a few months.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    What about Subaru? Why is it that the only manufacturer I am interested in is the only one that is doing ok?

  • avatar
    John R

    When I see mushroom clouds in anime I try to think of the context. Dragonball may not be the best example, but its my favorite. Notice the other characters responding to Vejita’s actions; they’re kinda terrified. From what I’ve seen in anime when atomic explosions are used, the subject matter is pretty weighty and images like these aren’t used flippantly, they resonate.

    In its use here I would imagine it depends on you point of view. These numbers are pretty horrific, so a mushroom cloud may be justified. I wouldn’t use it however.

  • avatar
    B-Rad

    We all knew output would be drastically cut because there are already too many vehicles produced, too much inventory. As far as efficiency goes, this sucks. But these are necessary cuts in production so that dealers can slim down inventory. At this point, more vehicles need to be purchased than produced. Too bad sales were way down last month for most automakers, though.

  • avatar
    niky

    RE: Anime reference: The Japanese are both terrified and fascinated by the atomic bomb. It has shaped their cultural subconscious over the past sixty years. Witness the cult Anime Akira, the cult movie monster Gojira (Godzilla). The atomic bomb is Japan’s 9/11… But it’s not a source of hate, as much as 9/11 was for America, but a source of shame. Of the downfall of pride and the utter humiliation of defeat.

    It’s complex.

    Just like the Carmageddon. I think the metaphor is apt. Only this time, all of us get hit by the bomb.

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    As Bertel says, they’ve slashed production, to trim inventory. But the key is the overall drop in sales.

    Not much fun building cars these days – but then I guess things even out, they had lots of fun when credit was easily available.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    The numbers are pretty shocking. And we were only worried about the survival of Detroit. Future parts and warranties? Which dealerships won’t you visit now….and which are “OK”? Any?

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    It should be pointed out that the Japanese manufacturers didn’t have lots crammed to overflow (Chrysler style) before the crisis, and that they are reacting quickly by switching off factories before they end up in that position.

    But it’s tough going, and it will blow back against the suppliers. It’s going to be years before the car market achieves equilibrium again, and that will be a prerequisite for new growth.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Bertel Schmitt :
    February 25th, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Most of the output and export numbers are due to Japans DRASTIC reduction, such as not to bloat inventories more. They expect them to be back to more manageable levels in a few months.

    Stein X Leikanger :
    February 25th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    It should be pointed out that the Japanese manufacturers didn’t have lots crammed to overflow (Chrysler style) before the crisis, and that they are reacting quickly by switching off factories before they end up in that position.

    It should also be noted that Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi all reported producing more cars in Japan during January than they either exported or sold. I believe that means the stock on the Japanese dealer’s lots has increased over the month.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    I guess now would be a good time to be working at a place like NAPA or Autozone, because eveybody’s holding onto their old hoopties instead of buying new cars, and those old cars will need parts to keep them going.

  • avatar
    wsn

    My local Honda dealer still won’t reduce even one cent off Fit’s MSRP. The Subaru dealer won’t reduce one cent off Impreza’s MSRP. Am I the only one here hoping the recession become worse?

    The only cars with sizable discounts are S2000 and MDX.

  • avatar

    wsn: The only cars with sizable discounts are S2000 and MDX.

    Hmm, I’ve been dancing around the idea of picking a S2000 CR. I wonder how much of hit that kind of car would take on the used market, considering brand new cars that are much less niche focused are being heavily discounted. I would look at the ordinary ragtop, but I hate soft top convertibles.

  • avatar
    B.C.

    TampaWRX: there’s an optional hardtop for the normal version, you know.

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    @Usta Bee
    I live in a neighborhood that has gone without a chain auto parts store for the couple of decades I’ve lived here.

    Just noticed today that there is an Advance Auto Parts opening soon in a nearby strip mall. Guess they’re thinking the same way.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    this news just makes me SOOOO sad!
    Particularly the news about Toyota.
    What happened to world domination?
    maybe next year?

  • avatar

    Using that photo, which depicts such a horrible sin on the part of “our side” toward the Japanese, trivializes the nightmares they must still experience, whoever is still left.  The sickness, the devastation, the utter depravity of it all…if you read the history books about dropping the A-bomb on Japan, you will find that Japan was begging us to surrender. I don’t believe for two seconds that this saved lives. It destroyed lives, millions of them, innocent lives of men and women who, like me, could not control their tyrannical government.  It’s a great evil.
    Now the Japanese are re-traumatized and devastated all over again. You ought to take that photo down.  I don’t mean to lecture, but if you think it’s OK to make light of a nuclear disaster, then you should hear from someone, at least, that it’s way uncool.

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