TOKYO - Despite another increase in exports, Japan's vehicle production fell for the seventh straight month in April. The 761,766 units built were a 14.1 percent drop from the strong April 1997, when Japanese carmakers were rebuilding inventories after a sales surge.
Nearly half of April's production - 380,133 - was exported, although Nissan cut back its exports to North America by 44 percent.
Edward Brogan, auto analyst at Salomon Smith Barney Japan Ltd., expects production to be down 6 percent over the year ending March 1999.
'The surge in production one year ago, the slowdown in domestic sales, the virtual cessation of shipments to Southeast Asia and Nissan's inventory bulge in North America should combine,' he said, 'to result in particularly harsh year-on-year growth comparisons' through June.