Japan December Auto Output Dives 25 Percent

Output of cars, trucks and buses in Japan plunged from a year earlier to 725,552 units, down for the third straight month and the largest year-on-year fall since 1967.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Output of cars, trucks and buses in Japan in December plunged 25.2 percent from a year earlier to 725,552 units, down for the third straight month and posting the largest year-on-year fall since 1967 when comparable data became available, an industry body said Friday.

Exports of vehicles by Japan's 12 automakers in the reporting month slipped 33.6 percent to 422,077 units, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said.

The sharp drop in auto production and exports came as automakers step up efforts to reduce their output in the face of slumping sales at home and abroad amid the global economic downturn.

Output of passenger vehicles in Japan in December declined 25.1 percent to 625,921 units and that of trucks fell 27.8 percent to 89,023 units. Production of buses rose 0.7 percent to 10,608 units.

Auto exports to the United States in December dived 36.1 percent from a year before and those to the European Union fell 39.5 percent. Auto exports to emerging economies, including those in Asia and Latin America, also declined from a year earlier, the association said.

Domestic production of cars, trucks and buses in 2008 dipped 0.3 percent from the previous year to 11,563,629 units, down for the first time in seven years, the association said.

Exports of vehicles last year gained 2.7 percent to 6,727,091 units, up for the seventh straight year, on the back of robust exports to emerging economies in the first half of 2008, it said.

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