January new car sales tops since ’97

Kyodo

New vehicle sales in January, excluding minivehicles, rose 27.5 percent from a year earlier to 292,446 units, the highest for the month since 1997, due to increased demand ahead of the first stage of the sales tax hike in April, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.

Sales of minivehicles with engine displacement of up to 660cc grew 32.1 percent to 203,659 units, marking a record high for the month since 1967, when comparable data became available, the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said.

The previous record for new car sales in January excluding minivehicles was set in 1997, shortly before the last sales tax hike from 3 percent to 5 percent. The rate will be raised to 8 percent in April and 10 percent in 2015.

Excluding minicars, car sales grew 28.0 percent to 264,278 units, and truck sales climbed 24.4 percent to 27,587 units. Bus sales sank 4.6 percent to 581 units, according to the automobile dealers association.