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Suzuki-Volkswagen alliance ranks top in 2009 global auto sales.

TOKYO, Jan. 25 Kyodo

The combined total sales of Suzuki Motor Corp. and Germany's Volkswagen AG, which became the Japanese firm's top shareholder earlier this month, were the world's highest in 2009, overtaking those of the Toyota Motor Corp. group, according to company data released by the companies Monday.

Suzuki and Volkswagen sold a total of some 8.60 million units globally, of which the Japanese firm accounted for 2.31 million units, while the Toyota group including Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co. sold an estimated 7.81 million vehicles, down 12.9 percent from the previous year.

The Toyota group sales fell amid the worldwide recession, with group domestic sales dropping 7.3 percent to around 1.1 million vehicles.

General Motors Co. of the United States has yet to report 2009 global sales but its figure is expected to fall below those of the Suzuki-Volkswagen alliance and the Toyota group.

Volkswagen has reported its worldwide sales came to a record-high 6.29 million units, up 1.1 percent from 2008.

Honda Motor Co.'s global sales were estimated at 3.39 million units, down 10 percent, and Nissan Motor Co.'s at 3.36 million units, down 9.4 percent.

Industry wide in Japan, eight major domestic vehicle makers saw their global production fall sharply in 2009 with the rates of decline ranging from 9.0 percent to 39.5 percent, according to data released by the companies.

While the conditions of the car market began to improve in the second half of the year, it was more than offset by sharp production cuts carried out in the first half amid the worldwide recession.

Of the eight automakers, all except Suzuki posted double-digit falls in global output.

Worldwide production tumbled 22.4 percent at Toyota alone and dived 23.9 percent at Honda.

Due in part to stagnant sales in Japan, Europe and the United States, domestic production plunged 50.1 percent at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and slumped more than 30 percent at Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda Motor Corp.

Honda saw its domestic sales edge up 0.2 percent partly because of the popularity of its Fit small car, while the figures at all the other seven firms went down due to the shrinking population of the young, the graying of Japanese society and growing consumer tendencies to opt for lifestyles without a car.

Domestic sales dropped for the fifth year in a row at Toyota and for the fourth consecutive year at Nissan and Mazda.

Exports also fell sharply at all of the eight companies, including a more than 60 percent fall at Honda and Mitsubishi.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Date:Jan 25, 2010
Words:442
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