Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) global production last month fell 38.5% year on year to 72,916 units, the 10th consecutive monthly decrease since March.

Production in Japan was off 46.6% to 42,329 units – a 49.4% decrease in passenger car and a 18.3% decline in commercial vehicle output.

“The fall in production volume in Japan was due mainly to the impact on sales volume in the company’s world markets of the global financial crisis,” MMC said in a statement.

Vehicle sales in Japan in December fell 31.3% to 11,143 units, the 16th consecutive monthly decline since September 2007.

Domestic market registrations slumped 47.1% despite a 7.4% increase in Pajero (Shogun/Montero) SUV sales. Minicar volume was off 19.0% despite a 52% increase for the Pajero Mini.

Overseas production declined 22.3% to 30,587 units, the 10th consecutive monthly decline.

By region, output in North America at 3,256 units was 30.6% down as production levels were adjusted for slow sales in the United States. Here in Europe, output at 1,418 units was 70.7% down as NedCar output was reduced to match sluggish sales in the region.

Exports from Japan were down 51.5% to 27,681 units, the second consecutive month of year-on-year decreases. Exports to Asia were off 59.2% to 2,026 units due mainly to a drop in exports of built-up models to China. Exports to Europe at 5,115 units were 72.8% down due largely to a major fall in sales in Russia and Ukraine.

MMC’s calendar year 2008 global production fell 7.8%, the first year-on-year drop in two years.

Production in Japan dipped 0.5%, the first decrease in four years, as a 0.2% increase in passenger car output failed to cover a 6.1% fall in commercial vehicle output.

“While output in Japan was up year-on-year in the first few months of the calendar year, the impact of the global financial crisis on the world economy forced production levels down as sales volume in the company’s markets started to drop in the autumn. As a result output for the full calendar year came in at virtually the same level as the previous year,” MMC said.

Japanese market sales fell 21.8% down, despite growth in Galant Fortis (redesigned Lancer) and Colt volume. Minicar volume declined 13.1%, despite higher sales of the Pajero Mini.

Overseas production for the calendar year fell 18.8%, the first decline since 2006. Output in North America and Europe was 58,963 and 53,661 units, 25.1% and 19.5% down respectively.

Exports from Japan rose 5.7%. Exports to Asia grew 3.1% to 41,587 units, principally on the back of higher sales of built-up models in China.

But shipments to North America fell 2.3% to 64,785 units despite a 35% rise in Canada volume.

Shipments to Europe grew 19.6% to 264,791 units as strong sales in Russia and Ukraine compensated for a slowdown elsewhere.