Auto Sales in Japan Drop After End of Subsidies, Korea Extends Slump image

Auto sales in Japan have seen the steepest decline in the last six quarters, as the government ended subsidies.

Auto sales in Japan dropped 9.4% to 1.53 million in the first quarter, with Toyota down 15%. South Korea, which is the fourth largest auto market in Asia, saw deliveries drop 2.5%, with Hyundai down 0.7%. The sluggish demand in the home market is a clear sign that Asian automakers have to rely on the overseas market in 2013.

Toyota’s situation is not so bad due to the weakening yen which has depreciated against all major currencies since November, but Hyundai and other automakers in Korea saw the won increase by more than 13% against the yen. This is the second consecutive quarter when Japanese auto sales fall after the government has eliminated in September subsidies for fuel-efficient cars. Analysts predict sales will drop 12% to 4.74 million vehicles this year.

During the first quarter Nissan’s sales fell 6% to 165,931 vehicles in its home market and Honda fell 43% to 92,579 units. Auto sales in Korea dropped to 321,420 units and the government cut for the second time in the past four month the growth forecast.