• Kyodo


New car sales fell 1.5 percent to 5.2 million units in 2019, the first decline in three years, thanks to sluggish demand following a series of natural disasters and the consumption tax hike.

Sales excluding those of minicars dropped 1.9 percent for the second straight year to 3.28 million vehicles, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.

By brand, Nissan Motor Co. logged a 13.8 decline to 367,514 cars, apparently affected by management confusion and cost-cutting following the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in November 2018.

Toyota Motor Corp. marked a 2.7 percent increase to 1.51 million units, while sales of Honda Motor Co. decreased 5.4 percent to 357,242 cars.

Sales of minivehicles, which have engines no larger than 660 cc, fell 0.7 percent to 1.9 million last year, the first drop in three years, the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association said.

“A series of natural disasters including typhoons (hitting wide areas of Japan in September and October) had a negative impact on the auto market,” an association spokesman said.

He said the consumption tax increase to 10 percent from 8 percent on Oct. 1 also dented consumer sentiment.