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Japan 2007 new vehicle sales fall

Sunday, January 6, 2008

TOKYO (Thomson Financial) - Sales in Japan of new cars, trucks and buses fell to their lowest level in 34 years in 2007 due to higher gasoline prices and sluggish consumer spending, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.

"The Japanese market is seriously maturing due to an aging population, while higher gasoline prices have made the situation worse," an association official said.

The association also said consumers are increasingly reluctant to make major purchases like new cars ,and car owners now keep their cars for longer than they used to, weakening demand for replacements.

In 2007, new vehicle sales dropped 7.6 percent to 3.434 million, declining for the fourth straight year and the lowest sales volume since 1973 when sales reached 3.40 million.

Annual sales peaked in 1990 when sales stood at 5.97 million units.

In 2007, sales of trucks fell 17.6 percent to 465,019, while sales of buses fell 11.3 percent to 15,617.

In December, sales of new cars, trucks and buses fell 7.1 percent to 236,142 vehicles, the first fall in three months. The fall comes after a 3.9 percent rise in November and a 2.0 percent increase in October, which was the first rise in 28 months.

Toyota Motor Corp launched four new models between September and December and Honda Motor Co released its fully remodelled Fit compact car and Inspire sedan while Nissan Motor Co put its Skyline Coupe and flagship GT-R sports model on the market but the new launches failed to lift sales.

The number of cars sold fell 4.1 percent to 205,548 in December. Sales of trucks fell 23.1 percent to 29,720, while sales of buses fell 25.4 percent to 874.

Separately, the Japan Mini-Vehicle Association reported that domestic new mini-vehicle sales fell 14.3 percent to 131,644 in December from a year earlier, falling for the ninth straight month.

In 2007 as a whole, sales of mini-vehicles with an engine displacement of less than 660cc fell 5.1 percent to 1.92 million, the first fall in four years.

In December, seven of the 12 Japanese automakers reported lower domestic sales.

Sales of standard size cars by the country's largest automaker, Toyota, fell 14 percent to 91,380 vehicles, the 13th fall in 16 months, while sales of its high-end Lexus sedans dropped 34.5 percent to 2,463.

Sales by second-ranked Honda, excluding sales of mini vehicles, rose 6.7 percent to 36,817, only the third rise in the past 21 months.

Sales by the third-largest Japanese automaker, Nissan, edged down 2.7 percent to 34,426 vehicles, the 25th fall in the past 27 months.

Sales by the No. 4 maker, Mitsubishi Motor Corp, grew 47.9 percent to 7,088 vehicles, rising for the ninth month in a row.

Mazda Motor Corp's sales edged up 0.7 percent to 11,603 vehicles, only the second rise in 22 months.

Sales by Fuji Heavy Industries, which makes Subaru cars, fell 4.4 percent to 7,020 vehicles, the 28th fall in 29 months.

Sales of standard size vehicles by Suzuki Motor Corp -- which now focuses on this segment rather than mini-vehicles where it used to be the leading maker -- fell 7.4 percent to 5,474, the third straight monthly fall.

Domestic sales of trucks continued to decline because of slowing demand for replacements to comply with tighter emission rules for metropolitan Tokyo which took effect in 2003.

Sales by Japan's largest truck maker, Isuzu Motors Ltd, dropped 30.6 percent to 4,388.

Sales by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp, which is owned by DaimlerChrysler AG, fell 43.4 percent to 4,168 trucks.

Sales by Nissan Diesel Motor Co Ltd, controlled by Volvo, rose 32.3 percent to 1,439 trucks.

Toyota subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd's sales rose 5.2 percent to 3,533 trucks.

In the mini-vehicle sector, Daihatsu Motor Co's sales fell 15.7 percent to 39,505 vehicles, giving it the second biggest market share of 30 percent, while sales at Suzuki Motor dipped 2.7 percent to 40,650. Suzuki however had the biggest market share of 30.9 percent.

(1 US dollar = 109.04 yen)

Posted by MOHAMED SAID at 11:45 PM  

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