Car sales in Japan fell 35.1 percent in March from a year earlier, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said on Friday, as the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami hit production and supplies to auto dealers.

Sales of cars, trucks and buses, excluding minicars, fell 37 percent from a year earlier to 279,389 vehicles in March.

The 37.0% drop was the largest since May 1974, when sales fell plunged 45.1% following the outbreak of the first oil crisis. It was the largest slump for the month of March, an association official said.
The association began compiling automobile sales data in comparative form in January 1969.

Japan’s top three automakers all reported sharply lower sales in the month. Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales fell 45.9% in March from a year earlier, while Nissan Motor Co.’s sales fell 37.7% and Honda Motor Co.’s  sales fell 28.3%. Until now, the combined production lost of Toyota, Nissan and Honda, plus other five passenger carmakers and four truck manufacturers through March 30 is estimated at some 400,000 vehicles as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.


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