The chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has said domestic car sales might pick up from June due to new tax breaks and subsidies for fuel-efficient cars the government has recently introduced to prompt demand.

Satoshi Aoki, also chairman of Honda Motor, noted that market conditions remained tough in April and May, noting there were signs that sales are so far falling behind the association's annual sales target of 4.3m units for fiscal 2009 ending next March.

''We do have a sense of a slow start against our initial target,'' Aoki was quoted by Kyodo News as saying at a press conference in Tokyo. ''But we expect the impact (from government subsidies) to gradually appear from around June.''

In addition to tax breaks introduced in April, the government will begin accepting applications tomorrow from consumers to receive subsidies for purchases of petrol-electric hybrids, zero-emission electric vehicles and other energy-saving cars.

The government estimates that the subsidies of up to JPY250,000 will boost JAMA's annual domestic sales target for fiscal 2009 by 690,000 units.