With Japanese carmaker and world number one Toyota’s announcement it will make the first loss in its 71-year history this year, fears over the state of Japan’s economy have soared today.
November sales were down by a third, and with a surging yen exports are suffering as their cars get more expensive by the day. Luxury Lexus sales have fallen off a cliff but across the range consumers are holding back on buying big-ticket goodies all around the world. The Japan Business Federation’s general assembly has had little good news today. “The world’s changed drastically in a year, and faces a once-in-a-hundred years crisis, with a far faster, wider, and deeper impact than expected,” said Toyota boss Katsuaki Watanabe. New models like the IQ, car of the year in Japan, are coming onstream. Toyota hopes to sell 100 000 of the ultracompact IQ’s next year, but the big profit margins are on the bigger cars for which the future appears bleak. Despite Toyota’s unmatched efficiency it cannot buck the global market. “I think the global economy has just embarked on building a new world order after such financial chaos, and I understand that Japan has a responsibility to meet expectations it will contribute to finding an answer. Decisive action is called for to tackle such a crisis,” says Prime Minister Taro Aso. But consumers are not shopping and the government is being forced into record levels of spending to bolster the market, piling up even more debt. With exports down by over a quarter this year, it is unclear just how much Japan can help the rest of the world.