TOKYO -- Japan's new-vehicle sales in June fell 6.0 percent from a year earlier as demand shrank in almost every market segment. The decline was the ninth in the last 10 months.
Only compact cars posted a sales gain. Sales of 660cc minivehicles were little changed from June 2001.
Sales tumbled 24.9 percent for regular-sized cars, 26.5 percent for light trucks, 13.5 percent for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and 15.4 percent for buses. Weak corporate demand was a key factor in much of the drop, amid the dim outlook for the Japanese economy.
Imported vehicles also declined 2.3 percent.
Individual consumers have cut back as well, shifting to less expensive models. That trend, combined with a string of new-car launches, pushed up compact-car sales by 2.0 percent for a third consecutive month.
"There has been a downsizing trend, reflecting thrifty consumers," said Toshiyuki Yagihashi, a spokesman for the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.
Among the five major Japanese automakers, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. were gainers. With its Fit subcompact ranked No.1 among Japan's top 10 sellers for a third consecutive month, Honda's overall sales grew 1.7 percent.
Honda, cashing in on the popularity, is raising its monthly output of the Fit about 5 percent to 30,000 starting this month. Nissan reported a 9.8 percent gain, thanks partly to the revamped March, which ranked fifth among the top 10 sellers. Although Toyota Motor Corp.'s ist compact was the fourth-best-selling car in June, the automaker's sales tumbled 10.6 percent in the month as consumers turned away from bigger sedans.
But running counter to that trend, the Toyota Alphard and the Nissan Elgrand luxury minivans, both introduced in May, got off to a solid start. Sales of the Alphard totaled 6,013, compared with its monthly sales goal of 4,000, while the Elgrand sold 6,671, double its monthly target of 3,300.
Sales slid 14.9 percent at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and 16.6 percent at Mazda Motor Corp. Among foreign automakers, General Motors sales slipped 1.3 percent as the Opel and Saab brands tumbled. Ford Motor Co.'s group sales also declined 3.5 percent, dragged down by the Ford brand and Land Rover. DaimlerChrysler plunged 24.1 percent.