Leading Japanese carmakers have reported a significant drop in their global output as the downturn bites.
Toyota Motor said worldwide production of all its brands fell 39.1% in January from a year earlier, the biggest percentage drop on record.
Honda Motor reported a 33.5% drop, the biggest since 1999, while Nissan Motor’s global output declined 54%.
Separately, official figures showed that Japanese car exports fell 69% in January from a year earlier.
Total Japanese exports plummeted almost 46% in January.
Toyota’s exports fell 56.2%, Honda’s exports dropped 46.3% and Nissan’s plummeted 62.1%.
Carmakers around the world have been hit hard by the credit crunch, economic downturn and rising unemployment in key markets, leading to a sharp fall in demand.
Last week, Japan’s government reported a sharp contraction in the country’s economy, by an annualised rate of 12.7% in the last quarter of 2008.
Vehicle sales in Japan fell the most in 35 years in January.
US car sales may drop to a 27-year low of 10.5 million units this year, General Motors has said.
Japanese exporters, including carmakers, have also been hit by the strong yen.
Toyota and Nissan are among those who have had to cut both production and jobs.
GLOBAL OUTPUT compared to a year ago
Toyota – 487,984 in January, down 39.1%
Honda – 226,551, down 33.5%
Suzuki – 177,085, down 20.3%
Nissan – 145,286, down 54%
Mitsubishi – 53,339, down 53.9%
Mazda – 45,548, down 62.7%
Source: BBC News