• Kyodo

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Total domestic output by eight major Japanese automakers fell 49.7% in September from a year earlier to 398,075 units amid an ongoing global chip shortage and delays in procuring parts from Southeast Asia due to the COVID-19 resurgence this summer, data showed Thursday.

The drop was the sharpest since May last year, when domestic production fell 61.8% from a year earlier due to the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and marks the second consecutive month domestic output has fallen below the previous year.

Output and sales by automakers bottomed out in May 2020 and had begun to recover after being hit hard by government lockdowns around the globe. However, recent production cuts have been prolonged due to a parts shortage since the beginning of 2021.

The Dai-ichi Life Research Institute estimates that a 10% drop in annual domestic output of automobiles compared to 2019, when 8.33 million units were produced, will result in a loss of ¥5.3 trillion ($47 billion) in nominal gross domestic product.

“This could become the main cause of Japan’s economic downturn and negatively impact a wide range of industries,” said chief economist Toshihiro Nagahama.

All of Japan’s eight major automakers except Mitsubishi Motors Corp. reported a decline in domestic production in September, with Subaru Corp. experiencing the largest drop of 74.8% due to a 12-day suspension of three of its domestic plants.

Output by Daihatsu Motor Co., reflecting the impact of supply chain disruptions in Malaysia and Vietnam, also plunged by 68.2%.

Toyota Motor Corp., the largest automaker in Japan, saw its production fall by 55.3%, with Honda Motor Co. logging a 55.5% drop.

But Mitsubishi Motors saw a 20.0% rise in its domestic output, exaggerated by a drop last year that was larger than its competitors.

Total global output by the eight automakers fell 35.5% in September from a year earlier to 1.56 million units, while worldwide sales were down 21.6% at 1.82 million units.

Toyota’s global output dropped 39.1% in the reporting month to 512,765 vehicles, tumbling for the second consecutive month.

The automaker also said its global sales declined 16.4% to 700,122 vehicles, falling for the first time in 13 months.

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