New vehicle sales in Japan in 2009 are likely to fall 4.9% year-on-year to 4.86m units, according to the Japanese automakers' trade association JAMA.
 
That would be the first time the Japanese vehicle market had fallen below 5m for the first time since 1978 amid worsening economic circumstances, JAMA said.
 
The fall will also mark the fifth straight yearly decline in sales of new vehicles - passenger cars including minicars, trucks and buses.
 
The association projected that overall domestic sales in 2008 will decline 4.5% from the previous year to 5.11m units due to the worsening economic situation.
 
The industry said that with the severe economic conditions expected to continue in 2009, personal consumption will remain sluggish on the back of corporate profit declines, deteriorating employment conditions and falls in real incomes.

Passenger car sales, excluding minicars, trucks and buses, are forecast to decline 6.9% to 3.01m units in 2009 and sales of minivehicles are estimated at 1.85 million units, down a smaller 1.6%.
 
JAMA said 2008 sales of new passenger cars excluding minicars, trucks and buses are projected to fall 6% to 3.23 million units. Sales of minivehicles are estimated to decline 1.9% this year to 1.88m units.