TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's domestic sales of vehicles excluding minivehicles could fall below 3 million in 2009, Yoichi Amano, head of the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, said Monday.
"We fear that the severe situation may extend beyond this year into next year," Amano told a news conference. He is concurrently president of the sales arm of a Nissan Motor Co.-led group of companies in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture.
The estimate by the association compares with 3,212,342 units sold in 2008, a 34-year low and nearly half of the peak level in 1990.
The sales projection, if realized, would represent a 38-year low.
Amano appealed for the national and local governments to provide some form of official aid to facilitate purchases, saying that instituting preferential tax treatment for buyers of environmentally friendly vehicles would help spur demand for them.
The projection by the auto dealers' group contrasts with 3,007,100 units in sales projected by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
The projections show that the group of dealers, who see customers face-to-face on a daily basis, is more pessimistic than manufacturers.