TOKYO - Even Daihatsu Motor Co. can't make Toyota Motor Corp. look good anymore.
After Toyota raised its stake in minivehicle specialist Daihatsu to 51 percent earlier this year, Japan's biggest automaker began putting out combined Japan sales tallies for the two brands.
That helped Toyota's numbers look much better.
Minivehicles, with engines smaller than 660cc, have been the sole hot segment of the auto industry this year. Indeed, in July, Daihatsu's minivehicle sales rose 33.1 percent above July 1998 levels, to 43,136.
But that wasn't enough. With Toyota's sales down 12.8 percent, and Daihatsu's nonminivehicle sales also off, their combined sales dropped 6.8 percent to 196,710.
Moreover, that left the Japan market share of Toyota plus Daihatsu at 36.5 percent in July and 37.6 percent for the year through July, well below Toyota's targeted 40 percent.