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Chip shortages hit Japan car sales amid production cuts

Credit: thehindubusinessline.com

Japan’s motor vehicle sales dropped in February for the first time in five months, in the latest sign of fallout from the global shortage of semiconductors.

Sales of cars, trucks and buses slid 2.2 per cent from a year ago, the Japan Automobile Dealers’ Association reported on Monday.

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The sales drop is a byproduct of the worldwide chip shortage and could temporarily add to Japan’s issues just as it emerges from a two-month state of emergency set to be lifted in the Tokyo area late this week. Sliding consumption amid government calls for reduced hours at restaurants and bars is seen pushing the economy back into contraction this quarter.

Still, economist Koya Miyamae at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. expects pent-up demand to increase vehicle sales once semiconductors supplies allow automakers including Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Subaru Corp. to crank up factory lines again.

“It’s a supply-side problem,” he said, adding that he sees Japanese consumers continuing to buy roughly 5.2 million vehicles a year once the chip bottleneck eases.

Japan’s biggest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp. has managed to weather the storm in relatively better shape because of its supply-chain monitoring system and a long track record of accurate orders, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Tatsuo Yoshida said in a recent report.