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Japan carmakers' May domestic output down by record 62% amid pandemic

This April 3, 2020 photo shows the logo of Toyota Motor Corp. at an entrance to its Tsusumi plant in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The domestic production of eight major Japanese automakers in May plunged a record 61.8 percent from a year earlier to 287,502 vehicles due to factory closures and falling demand amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, data released by the companies showed Monday.

The decline, which followed a 46.7 percent drop in April, was the sharpest since comparable data became available in 1967. The outcome was worse than the previous record fall of 60.1 percent in April 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan triggered extensive supply chain disruptions.

Domestic output is expected to see a milder decline in the coming months. Japanese automakers gradually restarted production in June, though volumes are unlikely to return to levels prior to the pandemic anytime soon, as infections continue to grow in some major markets.

Mazda Motor Corp. said its domestic production in May dived 83.6 percent following an 86.5 percent plunge in April. Nissan Motor Co., Japan's third-largest carmaker by volume, reported its biggest monthly decline of 78.7 percent in May. Subaru Corp. also saw a record monthly fall in domestic output of 77.8 percent in the reporting month.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's leading automaker, said its domestic output dived 57.0 percent to 122,744 vehicles in the month.

The combined overseas production of the eight major automakers plummeted 61.7 percent to 629,256 vehicles in May, slightly improving from a 67.9 percent fall in April thanks to recovering demand in China.

Subaru, which has just one overseas plant in the United States, saw an 87.7 percent drop, while Suzuki Motor Corp. said its overseas production plunged 92.7 percent due largely to slowing demand in India, its biggest market, despite the partial resumption of output in the country.

In China, Mazda's output grew 58.1 percent, while Toyota and Nissan posted increases of 13.5 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, from a year earlier, as the coronavirus outbreak in the country has slowed, the companies said.

The eight automakers' exports in May dropped 67.3 percent to 110,996 vehicles from the same month last year due to falling production and weak demand in overseas markets.

As for Toyota, the pandemic caused its global output in May to plunge 54.4 percent from a year earlier to 365,909 vehicles, the sharpest fall since comparable data became available in 2004.

Its global sales fell 31.8 percent to 576,508 vehicles in the reporting month, though that was an improvement from a 46.3 percent drop in April.

The auto giant said its global production declined for the fifth consecutive month, with overseas production tumbling 53.0 percent to 243,165 units due to stay-at-home requests and falling demand around the world.

Toyota's output fell 78.5 percent in North America and 58.9 percent in Europe due largely to weak demand amid the pandemic of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Honda Motor Co., Japan's second-largest automaker by volume, said its global production fell 51.8 percent to 221,601 vehicles in May, marking the 10th straight month of decline. But output in China nearly recovered to the level in the same month last year, decreasing 1.4 percent.

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