Japan vehicle sales down 7.8 pct in Jan, 2013 seen falling 11.7 pct

TOKYO Fri Feb 1, 2013 2:39am EST

TOKYO Feb 1 (Reuters) - Japanese car sales fell 7.8 percent in January from a year ago, when demand was inflated as carmakers recovered from disrupted supply chains after natural disasters in 2011.

Automobile sales in January including 660cc minivehicles totalled 383,499 vehicles, data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and Japan Minivehicles Association showed on Friday. Excluding minicars, the total was 229,333 vehicles.

The data comes a day after Japan's auto lobby said it expects sales in Japan to drop 11.7 percent year-on-year in 2013 to about 4.74 million vehicles.

The world's best-selling carmaker carmaker Toyota Motor Corp has said it expects to sell 1.4 million vehicles in Japan in 2013, down 18 percent. Globally, it anticipates shipping a record 8.9 million vehicles.

In 2012, Japan recorded its strongest auto sales since 2007, with carmakers shipping 5.37 million vehicles, up 27.5 percent from the previous year, data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association showed.

In January, sales at Toyota excluding the Lexus brand fell 15.5 percent to 105,355 vehicles, while Nissan Motor Co rose 11.5 percent to 44,210 vehicles and Honda Motor Co dropped 52.7 percent to 20,960 vehicles. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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