TOKYO - New-vehicle demand in Japan is not increasing.
Even compared with a weak year-earlier month, sales in April slid 5.9 percent to 412,785 as every segment turned lower. The monthly decline from a year earlier was the 13th in a row.
Sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a clue to underlying economic strength, were particularly hard hit.
Import sales fell 3.8 percent to 20,084. However, the drop was due mainly to a 69.3 percent decline of so-called reverse imports - Japanese cars built overseas and sold in Japan - to 980.
Sales of pure imports, non-Japanese brands, rose 8.1 percent to 19,104.
Medium- and heavy-duty truck sales slid 33.4 percent to 3,643, the victim of Japan's sluggish economy, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.
On the other hand, sales of inexpensive minivehicles, those with engines under 660cc, held up comparatively well. Minis slipped only 1.6 percent to 110,118, the Japan Mini Vehicles Association said.
Minivans, a category of the RV segment, were another bright spot. Excluding imported models and those in the mini category, minivan sales rose 6.9 percent to 69,613.
Among individual makers, Honda Motor Co. sales fell 11.3 percent to 52,566, despite a 16.5 percent gain in mini sales.
Some importers did well. BMW sales jumped 57.2 percent, although softer sales at Rover Japan held BMW Group's gain to 20.7 percent. Mercedes-Benz rose 18.2 percent.
General Motors posted strong sales of its Saturn, Saab, Cadillac and Chevrolet models, but those were offset by weak Opel results.