Japan's domestic sales of new vehicles fell to the lowest in 38 years as the global economic downturn shaved off consumer appetite for cars, buses and trucks, an industry organization said Wednesday.
Sales of new motor vehicles declined 15.6% in the 2008-09 business year that ended March 31 to 2 891 901 units, which was the first time the sales dropped below 3 million since 1971, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.
Although demand for new vehicles usually rises in March, sales also tumbled by 31.5% last month, the group said. March sales were the lowest recorded for that month since 1974.
"We need immediate measures to ease the chilled consumer sentiment on vehicle sales," association director Takeshi Fushimi said.
All of Japan's top three automakers suffered double-digit declines in sales in both fiscal 2008 and March.
Analysts said while the recession contributed to the slump, cars have also lost their image as status symbol, in particular for younger Japanese, leading to declining domestic sales on top of exports being hit by the global downturn.