TOKYO -- The global financial crisis isn't hammering auto dealers in just the United States. Bankruptcies of dealership companies in Japan shot up 28 percent last year as economic hard times hit sales.
The number of dealerships going bust reached 50 in 2009, up from 39 the year before, according to a study by Teikoku Databank Ltd., a Japanese market research company.
Japan's domestic car sales have been falling for years, hurt by the sluggish economy, a graying population and increased levels of urbanization. In 2009, light-vehicle sales slumped 8 percent to 4,508,991 vehicles, the lowest in 25 years.
Of the five biggest dealer bankruptcies in Japan, four were Mitsubishi Motors Corp. dealers. They suffered worst because of a dearth of new-vehicle launches, Teikoku said.
The biggest single bankruptcy in 2009 was a Nissan dealer that folded in March with liabilities of ¥3.47 billion ($38.5 million).
Profits at Japanese dealerships sank with sales.
Of 1,231 dealers surveyed by Teikoku, 73 percent reported a drop in sales for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2009. Only 48 percent of the dealers surveyed made a profit. At the bottom were Subaru dealers, with only 16 percent earning a profit.
Chieko Tsuneoka contributed to this report