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Japan Auto Sales Sink 14.9%​
September 2, 2008; Page B2
Japan's auto sales in August posted their steepest year-to-year drop in nearly a decade, but the comparison was skewed by inflated results in the year-earlier month.

August domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses fell 14.9% from a year earlier, their sharpest fall since 15.9% in November 1998, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday. Japanese car makers temporarily halted production in July of last year after a major earthquake forced them to put off planned registrations of some vehicles until the next month. That pushed the number of registrations in August 2007 higher than actual sales, a spokesman said. Last month was the first time in 37 years that vehicle sales had dipped below 200,000 vehicles in August.

Although the quake last year exaggerated the decline in August, underlying demand for automobiles in Japan remains sluggish as customers delay buying cars amid high gasoline prices and a stagnant economy.

Data released by the JADA exclude sales of minicars, which are vehicles with engine capacities of 660 cubic centimeters or less and account for about one-third of all vehicles sold in Japan.

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