Fall-Off In Trucks Could Bring Japanese Vehicle Sales To 23-Year Low

Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association says domestic sales to slip 2.0 percent, the lowest level since 1984.

Tokyo (AP) - Domestic sales of motor vehicles will likely dip 2 percent year-on-year to 5,521,300 units in fiscal 2007 through March 2008, sinking to the lowest level since 1984, when annual sales were about 5.48 million units, an industry group said Thursday.

The decline is attributed largely to projected sluggish truck sales, as demand for new trucks that meet tighter emission rules peaks out, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said.

Truck sales are expected to fall 11.0 percent to 931,000 units from projected sales for the current fiscal year to the end of this month, while sales of passenger cars, including minicars with engines of 660 cc or smaller, are seen edging up 0.1 percent to 4,575,000 units, the association said.

Sales of minivehicles including trucks are forecast to dip 2.4 percent to 1,980,000 units because few new models will likely hit the market, the association said.

Minivehicles and other fuel-efficient vehicles have been selling well in fiscal 2006 amid higher oil prices, but such demand is likely to decelerate, industry observers said.