TOKYO - Japan's new-vehicle sales rose 1.8 percent in November despite continuing softness in the minivehicle segment. Sales of minivehicles, cars and trucks with engines smaller than 660cc, fell 4.4 percent to 156,052.
Sales of small-sized cars also fell, but sales of larger cars, light trucks, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks all rose.
November sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of about 5.8 million, said Keith True-love, a Tokyo-based analyst for UBS Securities.
That is little changed from the rate in September and October, although below the 5.9 million to 6.2 million levels seen between April and August.
Still, he said, 'There's no need for concern. The overall economy is very firm.'
He pointed to steady improvement in the ratio of job offers to job seekers, and the fact that 'winter bonuses are going to be pretty good.'
Indeed, rising sales have led Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. to boost their seasonal hiring.
Toyota's use of seasonal, or nonlifetime, workers will climb to 3,400 this month, a record high, while its Daihatsu Motor Corp. subsidiary will add 200 to bring its total to 1,000.
Even Nissan, which has been losing sales and share in Japan, plans to recruit 500 seasonal workers from now until next spring. That will be its first hiring of seasonal workers in 21 months.
Among import brands, Volkswagen continues to shine. Excluding Audi, VW sales in November rose 19.7 percent from a year earlier to 4,797.
That brought its sales in the first 11 months of 2000 to 53,602, up 27.1 percent, surpassing the previous one-year import record of 53,239 sales by Mercedes in 1999.