Toyota Leads Drop in Japan Car Sales After March Earthquake

Toyota Leads Drop in Japan Car Sales After March Earthquake
A woman looks at Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid vehicle at the company's showroom in Tokyo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s largest carmaker, and Honda Motor Co. led a 23 percent drop in domestic vehicle sales, the 10th straight monthly decline, after the nation’s March 11 earthquake disrupted production.

Sales of cars, trucks and buses, excluding minicars, fell to 225,024 vehicles in June, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said in a statement today. Toyota’s deliveries declined 38 percent from a year earlier to 87,671, excluding Lexus-brand cars. Sales at Honda, the nation’s third-largest automaker, dropped 32 percent to 30,040.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan Motor Co. are working to restore full operations after the magnitude-9 temblor and tsunami damaged factories and caused shortages of parts and power. The disaster further depressed vehicle demand after a government subsidy program for fuel-efficient cars ended in September.

Even before the earthquake, the dealers association had forecast a 13 percent drop in vehicle sales in Japan to 2.8 million this year.

Sales at Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker, rose 4.2 percent to 45,113 vehicles in June.

Toyota expects global production to recover to normal levels by November or December. About 30 types of car components are still in critically short supply, compared with 150 in April, the Toyota City-based company said June 17. The dearth affects mostly electronic components, rubber and plastics.

Honda, Nissan

Honda, based in Tokyo, has also said it expects car production to return to normal levels by the end of the year, while Yokohama-based Nissan has indicated it expects to recover by October.

Japanese carmakers also face possible blackouts after the natural disasters reduced the nation’s power-generating capacity by 8 percent. Carmakers and auto-parts manufacturers will close their domestic plants on Thursdays and Fridays and instead operate during weekends from July to September.

Toyota rose 1.4 percent to 3,345 yen as of 2:13 p.m. in Tokyo. The stock has dropped 8.4 percent since March 10, the day before the quake.

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