/

New Mitsubishi-Nissan minicar goes on sale

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. started selling a jointly developed minivehicle in Japan on Thursday, aiming to catch up with rivals such as Daihatsu Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp.

The new vehicle — sold under the brand name of DAYZ by Nissan and eK-Wagon by Mitsubishi Motors — offers better fuel-efficiency of 29.2 km per liter than those of competing models.

The two automakers are looking to boost their combined share in the minivehicle market to around 20 percent next year from their current 10 percent, Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said at a news conference in Tokyo.

The vehicle is manufactured at MMC’s plant in Okayama Prefecture.

Minivehicles have become popular in Japan due mainly to their fuel efficiency and lower taxes, with sales accounting for around 40 percent of Japan’s new car sales. Daihatsu and Suzuki each have a market share of around 30 percent, followed by Honda Motor Co. with 20 percent.

According to Nissan, the DAYZ is available at a retail price of between ¥1,067,850 and ¥1,567,650. The automaker aims to sell 8,000 units of the model a month in Japan.

Import sales up 24.8%

Domestic sales of new imported vehicles, including those made abroad by Japanese automakers and shipped here, grew 24.8 percent in May from a year earlier to 25,968 units, an industry body said Thursday.

Sales of foreign-brand cars, trucks and buses rose 17.7 percent to 20,695 units, while those of Japanese-brand vehicles climbed 63.3 percent to 5,273 units, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association.

By brand, Volkswagen retained the top spot, selling 4,408 units for a 17.0 percent market share.

Mercedes-Benz ranked second with sales of 4,019 vehicles for a 15.5 percent share, followed by Nissan, which sold 2,972 units for an 11.4 percent share.

Prius overtakes Move

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid hatchback clinched Japan’s best-selling car title from Daihatsu Motor Co.’s Move minicar in May, industry bodies said Thursday.

The Prius sold 18,513 units, putting the Move in second place with 16,528 units, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said.

Honda Motor Co.’s N Box minivehicle ranked third with 14,627 units, followed by another hybrid model of Toyota, the Aqua, with 14,175 units.

Minivehicles with engines of up to 660cc took seven slots on the top-10 list.

A growing number of consumers are choosing minivehicles and compact cars, which are less expensive and provide good gas mileages. But the two fuel-efficient hybrid models stayed on the top-10 list.

Suzuki Motor Corp.’s Wagon R minicar ranked fifth with 13,538 units, followed by Daihatsu’s Mira, which sold 12,561 units, and the Tanto, 9,902 of which were sold.