February 1, 2007

Gasoline demand in Japan drops for first time in 32 years

Tokyo, Japan – Demand for automobile gasoline in Japan dropped 0.9 per cent in 2006 to 60 million litres, the first year-on-year drop in 32 years, according to a report by the Green Car Congress. The data was released by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Within the total, the demand for premium fuel fell even more sharply, dropping 5.6 per cent to 10.1 million litres. Demand for diesel rose 0.1 per cent to 40.2 million litres.

The Petroleum Association of Japan had projected that domestic gasoline demand would start to decline in 2008 as the population aged amid a lower birthrate, but the decrease occurred sooner than expected due to higher crude oil prices, an increase in mini-vehicle sales, and the spread of gasoline-electric hybrids.

Total domestic auto sales in Japan fell 1.9 per cent in 2006 to a 20-year low of 5.73 million units; by contrast, mini-vehicle sales rose 5.2 per cent, to exceed two million units for the first time and up for the third year in a row. Mini-vehicles now account for 35.3 per cent of all new-vehicle sales in Japan.

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