TOKYO - Japan's new-vehicle sales rose in February for the second straight month.
Sales climbed 16.2 percent for regular-sized cars, 8.5 percent for compact cars and 33.6 percent for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association. Overall sales rose 1.8 percent from a year earlier, to 526,093. For the first two months of the year, sales were up 2.3 percent.
February marked the fifth straight month of gains for medium- and heavy-duty truck sales. The industry has benefited from strict emission regulations, effective in October, which have accelerated purchases of greener trucks.
Meanwhile, sales of minivehicles - cars and trucks with engines smaller than 660cc - fell 5.1 percent. Sales of light trucks dropped 12.6 percent.
Among Japan's Big 5, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda gained, thanks mainly to their small cars that have appealed to a nation of belt-tightening consumers.
Toyota's Corolla, the nation's best seller in February, and ist compacts, together with the Wish minivan, helped drive up Toyota's sales by 5.8 percent.
Nissan jumped 18.6 percent, cashing in on the Cube and March, both of which placed among the top 10 sellers for the month. The Demio compact contributed to a 13.3 percent rise at Mazda.
In contrast, Honda slumped 21.4 percent, while Mitsubishi tumbled 5.0 percent.