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Domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses in May rose 2.3 percent from the same month last year to 291,363 units, logging the first increase in two months, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.

The association attributed the increase to continuing brisk sales of trucks and larger cars, including the Mitsubishi Grandis minivan.

Sales of new cars with engine displacements of 2,001cc or more jumped 13.3 percent from the same month in 2002 to 51,315 units, up for the fifth straight month.

But sales of smaller cars, with engine displacements between 661cc and 2,000cc, dropped 0.1 percent to 181,915 units, down for the second consecutive month, due to decreased sales of popular models, including the Honda Fit and the Nissan March, an association official said.

Domestic sales of new trucks in May rose 0.7 percent from the same month last year to 56,964 units, the first increase in two years, because sales of larger trucks with a load capacity of 3 tons or more surged 49.9 percent to 6,264 units, up for the fifth consecutive month.

Because tougher regulations on diesel exhaust gas emissions take effect in October, more and more users have bought new trucks that can clear the hurdles, the association officials said.

But sales of smaller trucks dropped 3.2 percent to 50,700 units, down for the 25th consecutive month, the association said.

Bus sales rose 22.8 percent to 1,169 units, up for the seventh consecutive month.

By maker, Honda Motor Co. and Daihatsu Motor Co. saw sales slump by more than 25 percent, and sales of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which makes Subaru cars, dropped 7.3 percent. But other Japanese automakers’ performances improved from a year earlier.

Minivehicles off

Domestic sales of new minivehicles in May dropped 6 percent from the same month last year to 128,329 units, down for the second straight month, the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said Monday.

Sales of minicars for private use fell 8.6 percent from a year earlier to 90,222 units, down for the second consecutive month, because fewer new models have been launched this year yet, an association official said.

But minivehicles for commercial use rose 0.9 percent from the same month last year to 38,107 units, the first increase in four months, the association said.

Minivehicles are defined as vehicles with engine displacements of up to 660cc.

By maker, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which makes Subaru cars, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. saw their sales rise in May, while other manufactures saw a decline in sales, the association said.

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