• Kyodo


Sales of new foreign vehicles in Japan rose 1.7 percent to 303,920 units in fiscal 2017, accounting for a record-high 9.1 percent of the country’s new-car sales excluding minicars, an industry body said Thursday.

While sales of foreign vehicles have been solid in the past few years, the fall in Japan’s new-car sales last fiscal year — due to inspection scandals at major domestic automakers — helped push the ratio up, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said.

Sales of foreign vehicles in fiscal 2017 rose for the third consecutive year to reach the second-highest level behind fiscal 1996. Sales were buoyed by the popularity of diesel engine cars and sport utility vehicles, the JAIA said.

Domestic sales of vehicles other than minicars with an engine displacement of up to 660 cubic centimeters stood at 3,338,234 units, down 0.6 percent in fiscal 2017, according to the JAIA and the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association.

Among imported brands, Mercedes-Benz held on to the top spot with a record 68,437 vehicles sold and a 19.48 percent market share, while BMW came in second with record sales of 51,299 units for a 14.60 percent share. Volkswagen ranked third with sales of 48,152 vehicles for a 13.70 percent market share.

Sales in Japan of new imported vehicles, including those built abroad by Japanese automakers, rose 1.3 percent in fiscal 2017 from the year before to 351,363.

In March alone, imported vehicle sales declined 0.7 percent to 46,281, the association said.

Among Japanese brands, seven minivehicles made the top 10 ranking, with Honda Motor Co.’s minicar N-Box becoming the best-selling car in fiscal 2017. N-Box clinched the top spot for the first time with sales of 223,449 units, up 16.2 percent from a year earlier, thanks to its revamped model introduced in September last year.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid, which topped the list in the previous fiscal year, came in second, selling 149,083 units, down 33.8 percent, followed by Daihatsu Motor Co.’s minicar Move, with 145,643 units, up 26.5 percent.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Dayz minicar ranked fourth with 136,505 cars, up 32.3 percent, while Daihatsu’s Tanto took fifth place with 134,660 units, down 9.5 percent.