Economy takes toll on exhibitor count at Tokyo Motor Show

The global economic slowdown has placed another dent on the car mart with less exhibitors joining the Tokyo Motor Show.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), organizer of the biennial Tokyo Motor Show, has confirmed that most of the world's major car manufacturers will be sitting out the auto show in October.

Only 122 exhibitors have confirmed their participation in this year's Tokyo Motor Show - almost half of the 2007's total of 241 - as the world undergoes what JAMA chairman Satoshi Aoki called a "once-in-a-hundred-years crisis."

American brands Ford, GM and Chrysler have gone ahead in announcing their absence in this year's Tokyo auto show last January. Recent news also said European brands like Volvo, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Lamborghini, and Volkswagen will also be skipping the Tokyo exhibit.

As a show of support, Japan's eight major car makers - Daihatsu, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota - have signed on, along with South Korea's Hyundai.

The only high-end brands that have so far signed up for the October show are Alpina, Lotus, Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche.

More signs of the worsening economic times for the Tokyo Motor Show include the reduction of its usual four-hall occupancy at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center to two, as well as the reduction of the auto show days to 13 from the original plan of 17.

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