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Sales of new imported vehicles, including those made by Japanese carmakers abroad, fell 4.8 percent in May from a year earlier to 19,611 units, down for the third consecutive month, according to preliminary data an industry group released Tuesday.

Sales of vehicles built by non-Japanese firms fell for a second straight month, by 3.9 percent to 18,488 units, and sales of vehicles made by Japanese firms overseas dropped 17.4 percent to 1,123 units, stretching the decline to 20 months in a row, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said.

The group said the decline in imports of foreign makers’ cars is attributable to one-off factors, including shortages of BMWs and other popular models.

Volkswagen maintained its market dominance among imports for the fifth straight month, with sales of 4,153 units, up 0.8 percent from a year before for a 21.18 percent market share.

Mercedes-Benz continued to rank second, posting a 4.6 percent increase in sales to 3,765 units. It took a 19.20 percent market share.

BMW retained its third rank with sales of 3,607 units, down 2.0 percent for an 18.39 percent market share.

Corolla back on top

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla compact became the best-selling car in Japan in May for the first time in two months, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Tuesday.

A total of 9,811 Corollas were sold during the month, down 8.3 percent from a year earlier.

Ranked second was the Toyota Vitz compact, followed by Honda Motor Co.’s Fit compact.

Toyota accounted for seven of the top 10 spots. Nissan Motor Co.’s Tida and Note made it back into the top group.

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