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Domestic motor vehicle production climbed 2.7 percent to 777,497 units in April, the first year-on- year rise in three months, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Tuesday.

Although domestic sales remained sluggish, an increase of more than 10 percent in exports, led by brisk demand for Japanese cars in the North American market, contributed to the surge in output, JAMA said.

Passenger car production in April grew for the fourth consecutive month to 660,561 units, up 5.3 percent.

Reflecting sluggish economic activity, truck production shrank for the eighth year in a row, by 10.2 percent to 112,191 units. Output of small trucks was hit particularly hard, as trucks with engine displacements of 2,000cc or less plunged 19.1 percent to 30,455 — the lowest for April since JAMA began compiling data in 1966.

Only three of the 11 Japanese automakers suffered a loss in domestic production in April: Mazda Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co.

Motorcycle production totaled 150,983 units, down 21.1 percent for the ninth consecutive year-on-year fall, JAMA said.

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