Toyota and Honda hit hard by pandemic

Japanese carmakers Toyota Motor and Honda Motor said their quarterly vehicle sales and profits had been dealt a severe blow by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first quarter, Toyota, the maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury vehicles saw its net profit plunge 86.3 per cent year-on-year to 63.2 billion yen (588.5 million dollars).

Its operating profit fell 27.5 per cent to 384.1 billion yen.

Sales were down 8.4 per cent to 7.1 trillion yen for the quarter.

For the previous financial year, Toyota posted a net profit of 2.08 trillion yen, up 10.3 per cent from the previous year and an operating profit of 2.4 trillion yen, down 1 per cent.

Sales fell 1 per cent to 29.9 trillion yen.

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“The world economy changed from a trend of moderate expansion to a sharp slowdown due to the effects of trade frictions and the impact of COVID-19 spreading from China to North America, Europe and Asia,” Toyota said in a statement.

Toyota projects operating profit for the current financial year will fall 79.5 per cent year-on-year to 500 billion yen due to the pandemic.

The Toyota group, including Daihatsu Motor and Hino Motors, expects its global vehicle sales for the year to fall 14.9 per cent to 8.9 million units, it said.

Toyota halted vehicle production in many parts of the world to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It, however, resumed normal operations in China in late March.

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Honda also said its net loss for the January-to-March period more than doubled from a year earlier to 29.5 billion yen as a result of the pandemic.

Honda posted an operating loss of 5.6 billion yen in the quarter, compared to a profit of 42.4 billion yen in the same period last year, while sales dropped 14.6 per cent to 3.46 trillion yen.

Honda has declined to release profit forecasts for the current financial year due to the effects of the pandemic.

For the year ending March 31, Japan’s third-largest carmaker booked a net profit of 455.7 billion yen.

It was down 25.3 per cent from the previous year.

Its operating profit of 633.6 billion yen was also down 12.8 per cent.

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Honda said sales were down 6 per cent to 14.9 trillion yen for the year.

Global vehicles sales fell 10 per cent to 4.79 million units for the year, the carmaker said.

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 286,000.

There are more than 4.1 million reported cases globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.