Japan's Automakers See Output Plummet

TOKYO (AP) -- Global production at Japan's top automakers continued to decline in April amid few signs of relief for the beleaguered industry.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's biggest automaker, reported Thursday its global vehicle production tumbled 46.5 percent in April from a year ago to 433,979 vehicles. It said sales dropped in Japan and overseas, exports from Japan languished and overseas production declined across nearly all regions.

Like their overseas rivals, Japanese automakers have been hammered by the global slump in auto demand, tightening credit in the key North American market and the strong yen, which erodes overseas profits.

Honda Motor Co., the nation's No. 2 automaker, fared slightly better because of strong sales of its Insight hybrid and Fit subcompact in Japan, where Honda's sales rose in April for the first time in six months.

Honda made 231,399 vehicles in April, down 29.7 percent on year and marking the sixth straight month of on-year decreases that began in November.

Nissan Motor Co., allied with Renault SA of France, saw its production fall across the globe, except for China, and made 183,248 vehicles worldwide in April, down 38.2 percent from the same month the previous year.

Global production for Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in April totaled 46,289 for the 14th straight monthly decline, marking a 54.3 percent drop over April last year.

Mazda Motor Corp. also reported a drop in global production at 63,307 vehicles, down 43.8 percent on year.

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