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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 15:58 GMT
Japan's auto sales at 35-year low
Toyota gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle to be available later in the year
Fuel-efficient Toyota models have sold well outside of Japan
Automobile sales in Japan fell last year to a 35-year low as a shrinking population and limited wage growth hurt demand, an industry group said.

Figures from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association showed sales of cars, trucks and buses down 7.6% from the previous year at 3.4 million.

Daihatsu was the worst off with sales slumping almost 50%, followed by Nissan whose sales fell 9.7%.

Overall Toyota sales fell 6% though sales of its Lexus marque rose.

The figures exclude 660cc minivehicles.

The decline underscores a downward trend for car sales in Japan, where sales have shrunk for the past four years, in marked contrast to the success its car firms enjoy in overseas markets.

Innovative environmentally-friendly models from Japanese carmakers, including Toyota, have been strongly welcomed in the US where consumers have become more conscious of curbing their carbon footprint.

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