TOKYO - Japan's commercial-truck market turned in another good month in October, but the segment has a long way to go to recover from its depressed levels.
Sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, excluding imports, rose 16.2 percent in October to 4,405, the second consecutive monthly gain, according to data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.
For the first 10 months of the year, sales are off 2.7 percent to 66,242.
The segment is struggling to recover from last year's depressed levels, which marked the lowest sales in more than 30 years. Commercial-truck sales closely track underlying economic conditions, and Japan has been skirting the edges of recession for more than two years.
Robert Shanks, Mazda Motor Corp.'s CFO, cautions against excessive optimism.
He said Mazda's recently launched Titan light-commercial truck has run into 'extremely competitive' market conditions. Mazda does not sell medium- or heavy-duty trucks.
'While there's some movement, I wouldn't blow up the balloons yet,' Shanks said.
'Some competitors are being extraordinarily aggressive in their marketing support. It's hard to imagine they are making money.'
In October, medium- and heavy-duty truck sales rose 37.2 percent at Hino Motors Ltd., 11.5 percent at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and 22.5 percent at Nissan Diesel Motor Co. But they fell 3.1 percent at Isuzu Motors Ltd.
Imported medium- and heavy-duty truck sales rose 8.3 percent.