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Asian Automakers Report Grim News

December 2, 2008

Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co.'s reported the largest drop in sales in 34 years, as Japan's recession and wage cuts hurt demand, according to Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, domestic sales for South Korea's five automakers dropped to the lowest point in more than three years.

Sales of cars, trucks and buses, excluding minicars, fell 27 percent to 215,783 vehicles in November, the Tokyo-based Japan Automobile Dealers Association said in a statement today. Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker, sold 106,342 vehicles excluding the Lexus brand, down 28 percent. Sales at Nissan Motor Co., the country's third-largest, fell 30 percent to 30,134.

Meanwhile, Honda's sales dropped 22 percent to 29,448 vehicles last month. Mazda Motor Corp.'s fell 33 percent to 9,699 vehicles.

The fall in domestic demand follows a sales slump in the U.S., the most profitable market for Japan's carmakers. In October, Toyota's sales dropped 23 percent, while Nissan’s plunged 33 percent and Honda dropped 25 percent.

Nissan's dismal sales figure coincides with news that its finance unit raised $600 million selling asset-backed securities, according to Bloomberg News. Terms of the sale have not been made public.

The poor sales figures have forced Japan's automakers to cut their earnings forecasts for this fiscal year as wages decline and tighter credit slows consumer spending. Wages in the world's second-largest economy dropped for the first time in October as companies cut overtime payments by the most in more than six years.

Domestic sales for South Korea's five automakers also suffered in November. The country’s domestic auto sales dropped 27 percent to 74,217 in November. Hyundai Motor Co., the country's biggest carmaker, reported a 34 percent decline in sales to 35,902. Sales of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., ranked third, plunged 57 percent. Kia Motors Corp., the second-largest automaker, reported a slight sales increase of 3.7 percent.

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