Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla retained top spot on the best-selling Japanese vehicle rankings for July, marking its 11th straight month in pole position, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.

Second place was taken by the Fit model produced by Honda Motor Co., less than one month after its debut on the auto market.

Toyota sold 26,182 Corollas in the month, while the Fit, having been launched in late June, sold 16,588 units.

Minivan sales continued to grow steadily. Honda’s Step WGN took third place with sales of 12,847 units, while Toyota’s Estima grabbed fifth place with sales of 12,729 units.

Toyota captured half the spots on the top 10 list, with Honda claiming three spots, and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. one apiece.

The Fit’s popularity is based on a variety of special features. These include having the world’s highest fuel efficiency, at 23 km per liter.

Honda said the Fit appeals to a wide group of consumers, mainly women in their 20s and 30s, and that its strong sales have created order backlogs for several months. The automaker said it has decided to increase Fit production.

Foreign auto boom

Sales of imported vehicles rose 5.1 percent in July from a year earlier to 23,185 units, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said Monday.

Sales leader Volkswagen enjoyed a 14.4 percent increase, the association said.

Vehicles produced by foreign manufacturers were up 9.1 percent to 21,972, while those made at the overseas factories of Japanese automakers declined 36.6 percent to 1,213, it said.

The sales figures for July bring total sales of imported vehicles for the year to 163,034, up 1.3 percent.

Of these, 154,327 are from foreign automakers, up 4.5 percent.

Volkswagen took a 26.3 percent share of the imported vehicle market in July, selling 6,098 vehicles. This marked a 14.4 percent increase from a year earlier.

Mercedes-Benz came in second with a 18.23 percent share on sales of 4,226, up 28.6 percent, while BMW placed third with a 10.82 percent share at 2,509 vehicles, up 5.6 percent, the association said.

Volvo came fourth with a 6.15 percent share on sales of 1,426 units, up 30.6 percent, while Opel placed fifth with a 4.93 percent share and 1,143 units, down 9 percent.

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