Domestic vehicle sales still on a roll

Domestic sales of cars, trucks and buses in January rose 14.9 percent from a year before to 336,642 units, maintaining double-digit year-on-year growth for the third month in a row, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association reported Feb. 3.

Passenger car sales totaled 234,621 units, up 20 percent, while those of trucks rose 4.6 percent to 101,261 units, JADA said. Sales of buses gained 1.7 percent to 760 units.

All automakers except Isuzu Motors Ltd. posted a year-on-year boost in sales, JADA said. Whether the latest figures indicate a recovery in domestic demand is not clear, a JADA spokesman said, citing the effect of fierce sales campaigns and discounts by automakers and dealers.

Carmakers are introducing new models to whet demand and shifting profits from the lower yen to support measures for dealers. Dealers meanwhile are seeking to take advantage of increased demand before the scheduled consumption tax hike in April.

Sales are likely to grow even more in the next two months, particularly March when companies close their books for the business year, the spokesman said. The association hopes the intensifying discount race will not go too far as to deteriorate dealers’ business, he added.