Japan's post-quake car sales plunge

Car sales in Japan dropped by nearly 40% in March after the devastating tsunami and nuclear disaster hit production and supplies to auto dealers.

The number of cars sold fell 37% from a year ago to 279,389 cars last month, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

Weak consumer sentiment led to a plunge in sales after the disaster on March 11 which ravaged large parts of northern Japan and caused radiation leaks at the coastal Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The tsunami also led to shortages in the supply of auto parts and damaged car manufacturing plants, forcing Toyota and other brands to halt production.

Association spokesman Masashi Miyajima said: "People are simply reluctant to buy cars at this time. The tsunami and the ongoing nuclear disaster have depressed consumer sentiment."

Mr Miyajima added that many people in the quake-hit areas were also cancelling car purchases.

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