New car sales rise 37.5%, up for 10th month

Kyodo

New vehicle sales rose 37.5 percent in July from a year earlier to 513,125 vehicles, the 10th consecutive month of increase, driven in part by the government subsidies for purchases of environmentally friendly vehicles.

According to data released Wednesday by two auto industry bodies, sales of minivehicles with engines no larger than 660cc increased 40.3 percent to 184,582, an all-time high for July, while sales of vehicles with larger engines rose 36.1 percent to 328,543, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said.

The big increases reflect the plunge in sales last year due to the damage inflicted on the auto parts supply chain by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

An industry official said the rate of increase was actually smaller than forecast as more consumers were expected to scramble to buy vehicles before funding for the subsidies runs out.

Under the program launched in April, the government has been providing ¥70,000 per minivehicle and ¥100,000 per larger vehicle registered after last Dec. 20.

Excluding minivehicles, sales of Toyota vehicles rose 62.8 percent to 165,666. Honda Motor Co. sales rose 35.3 percent to 45,627 units.