March global sales slump spells trouble ahead for Japan's carmakers

TOKYO (Reuters) - Global vehicle sales by Japanese automakers dropped by 34% in March when the coronavirus outbreak spread worldwide, and are set to fall further in the months ahead as the crisis continues.

Demand for cars has plummeted as people have been ordered to stay indoors in many countries to control the spread of the coronavirus, leaving motorways deserted and deep uncertainty about the longer-term impact on the global economy.

Analysts expect that this will put consumers off buying new cars, cutting 2020 global vehicle sales by around a third, compared with an 11% fall after the global financial crisis.

In a sign of the damage so far, Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Japan’s four other major carmakers reported sales of around 1.82 million cars last month, down from around 2.77 million a year earlier.

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