2012 vehicle sales jump in post-disaster Japan

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TOKYO – The number of vehicles sold in Japan last year jumped 26.1 percent from 2011, when the auto industry was pummelled by the quake-tsunami disaster, according to industry data on Monday.

Annual sales of cars, trucks and buses, excluding mini vehicles — four-wheel vehicles with engines under 660 cc — came in at 3,390,274 units in 2012, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

In 2011, Japan’s domestic vehicle sales dropped 16.7 percent after the disaster damaged factories and crippled automakers’ supply chains, forcing the likes of Toyota and Nissan to shutter plants and halt production.

By category, sales of passenger cars totaled 3,014,651 units in 2012, up 26.3 percent on-year, while sales of trucks climbed 24.4 percent to 363,685 units. Bus sales gained 12.1 percent to 11,938 units, the industry data showed.

However domestic auto sales in the last month of 2012 slipped 3.4 percent to 214,429 units, the data showed, partly due to the expiry of government subsidies aimed at bumping up sales of eco-friendly cars.

December’s results marked the fourth consecutive monthly decrease, the association said.

“It is difficult to cite any decisive factor for the decline in monthly sales… but the end of subsidies still matters the most,” an association official said.

Sales of mini-vehicles gained 30.1 percent last year to 1.98 million units.

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