TOKYO - Falling sales at home, weaker exports and torrential rains that briefly closed factories in central Japan combined in September to push production of cars and trucks down 9.6 percent from a year earlier.
The decline, to 844,163, was the first in eight months. For the year to date, output still is running 2.7 percent ahead of the same period a year earlier, at 7.6 million units.
But production of minivehicles, which have been an especially strong component of domestic sales for the past two years, was off 2 percent in the month and 0.3 percent for the nine months through September.
According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, exports dropped 6.7 percent to 410,041 in September from a year earlier. Domestic demand, as previously reported, declined 2.3 percent to 550,774.
The export drop was paced by a 6.2 percent decline in shipments bound for the United States, to 142,888. It was the first such decline since January and only the second drop in 25 months.
In addition, exports to Europe slid 13.9 percent to 96,268, dragged down by a 13.3 percent drop to the European Union. Those declines more than offset a 20.4 percent rise in exports to Asia, to 40,230.
For the year to date, though, exports still are running 2.3 percent ahead of a year earlier, at 3.35 million units.
Output in September fell 6.1 percent at Toyota Motor Corp., 19.5 percent at Honda Motor Co., 12.5 percent at Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., 18.5 percent at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and 19.1 percent at Mazda Motor Corp.
However, Suzuki Motor Corp.'s production rose 2.9 percent while Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subarus, was up 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Daihatsu Motor Co., a Toyota affiliate that is a minivehicle specialist, was up 6.8 percent in the month.
Truck production is up just 1.8 percent for the year.