Japan sales dip in September

TOKYO — Japan’s new-vehicle sales in September slipped 4 percent from a year earlier, when the month had one extra registration day. Adjusted for the one-day difference, sales last month were up 1.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

On an unadjusted basis, sales of non-mini cars fell 1.0 percent while light trucks tumbled 13.3 percent. Sales of 660cc minivehicles also contracted 3.7 percent. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks was the sole segment to advance, rising 10.9 percent.

Among Japan’s Big 5 automakers, Honda Motor Co., up 14.1 percent, was the only gainer as it continued to cash in on sizzling demand for the Fit subcompact car and StepWGN. The Fit, launched in June, sold more than 18,000 in September, more than double its monthly sales target of 8,000.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales slumped 8.9 percent, in part because of the comparison with especially strong sales in the year-earlier month, when the latest Corolla was launched. Nissan slipped 4.7 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s sales dipped 0.2 percent as it continues to struggle with the aftermath of a recall scandal. Mitsubishi’s Airtrek, launched in June, sold 1,627 in September, well below its monthly sales target of 5,000.

Sales dropped for four of Japan’s six minivehicle makers as the segment slumped for the 15th consecutive month. Both No. 1 Suzuki Motor Corp. and No. 2 Daihatsu Motor Co. were among the losers. Several all-new minivehicles are due to hit the market this month, including vehicles from Daihatsu and Mitsubishi.

Imports shrank 5.2 percent, the first decline in three months, as weak consumer confidence slackened demand for luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz plunged 12.7 percent, while BMW tumbled 3.0 percent.

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