The production of tyres in Japan is expected to drop by 5% in 2009 as car sales fall worldwide, according to industry figures released today.

The Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association (JATMA) has also released figures estimating that domestic auto sales are likely to fall 7% to 4.7m vehicles next year.

The report from JATMA said tyre output, including exports, is expected to fall to 1.28m tonnes of rubber used in 2009, down from an estimated 1.35m tonnes this year. The 2009 figure, if it proves correct, would be the lowest since 2004.

JATMA, meanwhile, expects a 9% fall in Japanese automobile production in 2009 to 10.7m. The association’s figures for tyre production are better because it expects relatively solid demand for replacement tyres.

Exports of Japanese tyres are expected to reach 69.1m in 2009, a fall of 8%. Demand on the domestic market is expected to be 121.9m tyres, down 6% from 2008.