New vehicle sales in Japan tumbled at a record pace in April as the March 11 earthquake disaster wrecked supply chains for automobile production. The sales came to 108,824 units in April, down 51 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.
The market’s contraction marked the biggest-ever drop in monthly vehicle sales and was the lowest volume since January 1968, when records began.
Combined with 660cc vehicles, tallied separately, new vehicles sales in the world’s third-biggest auto market declined 47.3 percent to 185,673 vehicles, data showed on Monday.
Sales of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles dropped 68.7% to 35,557 vehicles in April, with those of its luxury brand Lexus down 44.7% at 1,656. Nissan Motor Co. vehicle sales tumbled 37.2% to 17,413 in the month, while Honda Motor Co.’s sales sagged 48.5% to 18,923
Toyota and Nissan are scheduled to report full-year earnings next week.
Demand was also hit by the termination last September of a government subsidy to encourage consumers to trade in their old vehicles for more environmentally friendly models.
Factories have since resumed production but the association was cautious about sales from May onwards. Analysts say a parts supply shortage that has strangled production may last for months.
“Factory lines started moving again but they are not operating fully yet. We are likely to continue feeling the impact (of the disaster),” a spokesman at the association said.