Japan new vehicle sales fall by record 51%

Japan’s domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses logged their biggest-ever drop in April, an industry group said Monday as the March quake and tsunami hit production and supplies to dealers.

The sales came to 108,824 units in April, down 51 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

The drop, far steeper than a 37 percent fall in March, was the biggest since the data began being recorded in 1968. The previous record fall was 45.1 percent in May 1974 when Japan was reeling from the oil crisis.

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#3 Agian? – Auto production faces bigger hit after Japan quake

Toyota Motor Co may slip to No. 3 in the automaker production rankings behind General Motors and Volkswagen due to Japan’s earthquake and nuclear crisis, which slashed local output by almost two-thirds in March alone.

A shortage of parts in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has savaged Japan’s auto sector supply chain, while damage to a major nuclear plant has disrupted power supplies.

Investors expecting overseas rivals to benefit from a prolonged slump in Japanese output pushed up shares in South Korea’s Hyundai Motors and associate Kia Motors to record highs on Monday.

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Industry crisis worsens for Japanese Automakers

Latest developments in the auto industry following Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The twin disaster and subsequent damage to nuclear reactors have disrupted the flow of auto parts and cars around the world.

In Japan:

• Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s No. 1 automaker, plans to restart production of the Prius and two Lexus hybrids — the HS 250h and CT 200h — on March 28. The company is expected to keep most of its other plants closed into next week, according to IHS’ Global Insight Automotive Report.

• Honda Motor Co. extended a shutdown of car production at its Saitama and Suzuka factories until April 3. It will restart motorcycle production on March 28. "Honda’s core supplier base could be most affected by the disaster," according to IHS.

• Nissan Motor Co. resumed production of the Nissan Leaf at its Oppama and Zama plants, but said the ability to keep producing the cars will depend on the frequency of rolling blackouts.

Read the rest of the story: As Japan shutdowns drag on, auto crisis worsens.