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Japan’s minivehicle ownership rate fell at the end of 2019 from a year before, marking the first drop in 44 years, according to industry data.

Consumers’ move to replace their cars with smaller ones has apparently come to an end, said an official of the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association, which released the data on Monday.

The number of minivehicles on the road in Japan at the end of last year rose 0.7 percent from a year before to 31,216,609 units, according to the association.

But the ownership rate per 100 households fell to 54.40 from 54.41 as the pace of growth in the number of households was higher.

The number of households grew particularly in metropolitan areas, including Tokyo and Osaka, where the ownership rate is relatively low.

Minivehicles, or vehicles with engine displacements of up to 660 cc, are still popular thanks to their maneuverability and enhanced safety features.

But the ownership rate is “expected to continue falling,” an official at a major Japanese automaker said, citing a high pace of growth in the number of households.

The association started the annual minivehicle ownership survey in 1975. The survey period was changed from the end of March to the end of December in 2013.

The drop in the ownership rate marked at the end of March 1976 stemmed from a minivehicle system revision.

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