TOKYO - Japan's new-vehicle sales in April declined 1.6 percent from a year earlier, extending the market's decline to eight consecutive months.
Sales contracted 10.4 percent for medium- and large-sized cars with engines larger than 2.0 liters, 27.6 percent for light trucks and 12.3 percent for medium and heavy trucks, as Japanese consumers and corporations continued to tighten their purse strings.
The declines more than offset a 9.4 percent increase in sales of compact cars with engines between 1.0 and 2.0 liters.
Sales of minivehicles, defined as cars and trucks with engines smaller than 660cc, changed little, and imports rose 4.9 percent.
Among the Big 5 Japanese automakers, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., up 12.6 percent, was the biggest gainer. Its March subcompact car has been a hot seller.
Sales of the March totaled 13,470 units in April, well above its monthly sales goal of 8,000. It ranked fourth among the 10 top sellers.
As part of Nissan's three-year 180 plan, CEO Carlos Ghosn said the automaker aims to place three cars in the monthly top 10 list in Japan, excluding minivehicles. The March was the only Nissan model to make the April list.
In addition, Nissan's all-new Moco minicar posted sales of 3,961 in April in only three weeks on the market, well above the pace needed to achieve a monthly sales goal of 4,000. Suzuki Motor Corp. builds the Moco, Nissan's first mini.
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. boosted its sales 6.7 percent, placing two of its models on the top 10 list, including the Fit subcompact at the No. 1 spot, on sales of 17,600.
Sales declined 4.2 percent at Toyota Motor Corp., 13.1 percent at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and 15.1 percent at Mazda Motor Corp.
Among foreign brands, General Motors group sales rose 26.5 percent. Ford Motor Co. group sales slid 14.3 percent as drops by the Ford and Land Rover brands more than offset gains by Jaguar.
DaimlerChrysler sales tumbled 16.1 percent, dragged down by Mercedes-Benz.
Volkswagen AG group sales rose 19.8 percent, helped by an 89.2 percent surge in Audi sales.
Among this month's introductions are the Toyota ist subcompact unveiled May 8; the Mazda Atenza, to be known as the 6 in overseas markets, today, May 20; and the Toyota Alphard minivan due Wednesday, May 22.