The decline in passenger car production
rates that ran right throughout 1998 began to ease towards the end of the year as special
factors came into play. For the full year the total number of cars built was 8,055,763, a
decline of 5.1% against the 8,492,080 of 1997, but in December the deficit was a softer
1.7% at 648,357 from 659,510. However, the real reason for the late sunshine was the
change in legislation concerning micro cars and the subsequent surge by the likes of
Daihatsu and Suzuki to meet the swift upsurge in demand in the domestic market.

The results of the change in legislation
are clear from the table which shows that whilst the sector overall was down by 436,317
units, the likes of Isuzu, Subaru and Daihatsu at the bottom of the table and Mazda just a
couple of slots above them actually finished the year with output ahead of 1997.

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