Japan's Auto Sales Plummet 51%
Quake-prompted parts shortage leads to largest plunge in history
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 2, 2011 12:17 PM CDT
Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda attends a press conference in Tokyo Friday, April 22, 2011.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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(Newser) – Japan saw auto sales drop 51% in April compared to sales a year earlier, the biggest plunge since record-keeping began in 1968. The earthquake- and tsunami-prompted parts shortage squeezed production and dealers’ supplies; just 108,824 vehicles sold last month. Toyota was the hardest-hit, with sales sinking 68.7% to 35,557; Nissan saw a 37.2% drop to 17,413 vehicles, and Honda sales fell 48.5% to 18,923, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Quake-ravaged northeastern Japan was home to some 500 suppliers’ factories. Though operations resumed last month at the three leading automakers, production was well below original expectations, and the future remains unclear. Still, Toyota’s president said that “all production lines and all models will be back to normal in November to December,” while Honda expects operations to match pre-quake plans by year’s end.