TOKYO (AP) — New vehicle sales surged 78 percent in Japan in March, supported by government subsidies for energy efficient cars, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.
Sales of new autos totaled 497,959 vehicles in March, up from 279,389 vehicles in the same month a year earlier, the industry group said.
The increase was exaggerated by the sharp drop in sales after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, devastating much of coastal northeastern Japan and killing about 19,000 people.
Massive flooding in Thailand later in the year caused further damage to factories and disrupted production.
The government announced late last year it was extending tax breaks for low-polluting vehicles, that were due to end this month, for another three years to help support the industry.
It also has pledged to provide subsidies of up to 100,000 yen ($1,200) for purchases of fuel-efficient cars between Dec. 20, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2013.
The data show auto sales climbed 3 percent in January-March from a year earlier to 3.1 million vehicles.