TOKYO - Japan's new-vehicle sales remained weak in June, although the drop from the year-earlier month was not as steep as in recent months.
Total sales of cars and trucks slid 5.7 percent from June 1996 to 557,889.
In comparison, the year-to-year drop was 10.9 percent in May and 15.1 percent in April. Sales have been falling since an increase in the national sales tax on April 1, which had brought buyers to showrooms in record numbers in the January-March quarter. March sales set a record for Japan.
June sales fell for all categories except light trucks, where sales edged up 0.3 percent.
Import sales fell 20.5 percent in June to 32,176, bringing the year-to-date decline to 8.7 percent, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said.
Light-truck sales were boosted by demand for so-called RVs, which in Japan include station wagons, minivans and sport-utilities.
Excluding minivehicles with engines under 660 cc, RV sales jumped 18.2 percent to 182,429, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.
Sales of both station wagons and minivans rose a nearly identical 39 percent in June. Minivans rose to 83,449, while station wagons rose to 66,734.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales fell 6.1 percent in June, while Nissan Motor Co.'s dropped 12.4 percent.
But Honda Motor Co.'s sales rose 4.8 percent, while Mazda Motor Corp.'s rocketed 25.6 percent.
Among major importers, Volks-wagen/Audi sales rose 10.4 percent and Chrysler was up 6.7 percent. But Ford skidded 54.4 percent and General Motors fell 29.5 percent.