Japan’s sturdier and sassier minivehicles posted a 26.1 percent increase in sales in February compared with the previous year for the fifth consecutive month of rise, the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said on Thursday.

The 161,285 units sold marked a record high for the month and was driven by steady demand for minicars, which leapt 37.1 percent to 105,390, according to the association.

Minivehicles are vehicles that have engine capacities no greater than 660cc. Their renewed popularity stems in great part from a government decision last October to improve the smallish vehicles’ safety standards by increasing both size and safety features.

Minicars under the new specifications accounted for 99.8 percent of all minicar sales, the association said.

Automakers have also introduced new truck and van models since February that have also boosted sales, the association said.

Suzuki Motor Corp. led minicar sales with 31,563 units, followed by Daihatsu Motor Co. with 28,080 and Honda Motor Co. with 17,593. Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corp. rounded out the list with 16,630, 8,399 and 2,909 units, respectively.

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