Sales of imported cars to hit record

Kyodo

Imports are set to grab a record share of more than 8 percent of Japan’s new car market in 2013, reflecting robust sales driven by an economic rebound, the Japan Automobile Importers Association says.

Both luxury and lower-priced imports are proving popular in a market where overall new car sales have slid due in part to the declining population.

According to industry data, sales of imported cars — excluding those made abroad by Japanese automakers — rose 16.1 percent from a year earlier to 248,479 vehicles from January through November. The association projects sales in December will push the total for the year to 280,000.

Overall sales of new vehicles in Japan excluding minicars are projected at between 3.22 million and 3.25 million units for the year, with imports likely to account for 8.6 percent, eclipsing the previous record of 7.7 percent logged in 2011.

German cars made by Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are selling particularly well, accounting for about 70 percent of total foreign car sales.

About 60 percent of people buying Volkswagens switched from Japanese-brand cars, with sales of Golf models ranging in price from ¥2 million to ¥4 million accounting for about 20 percent of the brand’s sales, according to the German automaker.

Audi had already sold 25,000 vehicles by November, an annual record high, with its top A8 sedan seeing brisk demand despite its ¥9.62 million price tag.