Daihatsu minicar gains top sales spot

Kyodo, JIJI

Daihatsu Motor Co.’s Move minicar was the best-selling car in April, its first time in the top spot in four years and five months, replacing Toyota Motor Corp.’s Aqua hybrid hatchback, industry bodies said Wednesday.

The Move sold 18,601 units, up 53.9 percent from a year earlier, marking the first time in 23 months that a minivehicle finished in first place, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said.

The Move is the first minicar that has an automatic braking mechanism to help avert collisions. The function was added when the minicar was restyled in December.

Ranking second was Toyota’s Prius hybrid hatchback, with sales of 18,417 units, down 15.9 percent, followed by the Aqua with sales of 17,182 units, down 7.0 percent.

The Aqua, which was the best-selling car on a full-year basis for the first time in fiscal 2012, lost the monthly top slot for the first time in seven months.

A growing number of consumers are choosing minivehicles, which are less expensive and have lower maintenance costs, observers said.

Minivehicles took seven slots on the top 10, taking all positions from fourth to ninth place.

Tenth place went to Nissan Motor Co.’s Note minicar with a 1.2-liter engine.

Also on Wednesday, sales of imported foreign-brand vehicles in April jumped 33.2 percent from a year before to 16,274 units, marking the steepest growth since March 2012, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said.

The sales rose for the 12th straight month on the back of the economic recovery, it said.

“Thanks to rises in stock prices, sales of luxury vehicles costing ¥10 million or more are improving mainly in major cities,” an association official said.

The association said imported vehicle sales are expected to keep posting year-on-year growth.

German brands dominated the top three spots. Volkswagen ranked first for the fourth consecutive month with sales of 3,624 units, up 74.7 percent, thanks chiefly to new models.

Mercedes-Benz came in second with 2,794 units, up 47.9 percent, followed by BMW with 2,515 units, up 15.7 percent.

Among U.S. brands, Ford’s sales came to 350 units, up 43.4 percent, and Chrysler’s sales stood at 115 units, up 66.7 percent.