Japan car sales jump on stimulus; Hyundai soars

09:07, April 02, 2010      

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Japanese auto sales jumped by a quarter in March to cap a business year that relied heavily on government incentives, while South Korea's Hyundai Motor continued to rack up impressive sales growth, sending its shares to a record high.

Led by Toyota, Japanese sales of new cars, trucks and buses, soared 24 percent last month to 674,494 vehicles, helped by an extra selling day compared with last March.

Annual Japanese sales grew 10 percent to 3.182 million vehicles for the business year ending Wednesday, marking the first double-digit rise in two decades.

But officials said the tally was still the fifth-lowest on record, bouncing back from an especially weak, crisis-hit year with the help of tax incentives and subsidies on low-emission cars since last year.

Demand in the 2010/11 business year is expected to fall 4.9 percent to 4.65 million vehicles, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said last month, in what would mark a 33-year low.

With demand expected to shrink as more Japanese move to urban areas well served by public transportation, local carmakers such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan are turning to overseas markets for growth.

But they face tough competition from Hyundai, whose sales in March defied the end of government subsidies at home to surge by more than a third globally thanks to new model launches and strong overseas demand.

"South Korean carmakers are simply doing superbly," said Kang Sang-min, an analyst at Hanwha Securities. "March seasonally is not a strong month, but they still managed to post such strong rises."

Shares in the world's fourth-largest carmaker Hyundai, with which Kia Motors is an affiliate, jumped as much as 5.6 percent to match the record high reported last December.

Source: Global Times


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