• Kyodo

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Sales of new imported vehicles, including those built abroad by Japanese automakers, rose 12.7 percent from the year before to 362,052 units in fiscal 2013, an industry body said Friday.

Sales of foreign-brand vehicles soared 22.9 percent to 302,018 units, the second-highest figure since data collection began in 1966, driven in part by brisk demand ahead of the consumption tax hike, according to an official of the Japan Automobile Importers Association.

As a result, the market share of foreign-brand vehicles came to 8.8 percent, rewriting records for the third straight year.

The popularity of vehicles with efficient fuel consumption and low emissions also fueled the rise in sales, with over half of all foreign-brand models sold eligible for an “eco car” tax break, the association said.

Meanwhile, luxury models costing more than ¥10 million also sold well, according to the association.

Sales of Japanese-brand vehicles, meanwhile, shrank 20.6 percent to 60,034 units, with a dearth of new models the primary factor.

By brand, Volkswagen held onto top spot, with a 19.9 percent market share at 72,157 units.

Mercedes-Benz came in second with sales of 59,774 units for a 16.5 percent market share,. It was followed by BMW, which sold 50,256 units take 13.9 percent of the market.

In March, sales rose 11.8 percent year-on-year to 48,963 units, with sales of foreign-brand vehicles up 26.1 percent to 42,543 units, according to the association’s monthly figures.

Sales of imported Japanese-brand vehicles, meanwhile, fell 36.2 percent to 6,420 units for the month.

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