TOKYO - Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s July new-vehicle sales in Japan tumbled 52.2 percent from a year earlier to 15,862.
But the company says that's on target. Mitsubishi's July decline came as overall sales in Japan eased 0.3 percent to 523,298.
The struggling automaker recently predicted that its Japan sales would fall by 50 percent in July under a worst-case scenario. The company said sales would fall by less than 15 percent in a best-case scenario.
Consumers are shunning Mitsubishis in the wake of a recall scandal that has led to arrests of Mitsubishi executives and reports of deaths related to defects in the automaker's vehicles.
The company's worst-case scenario sees year-to-year sales in Japan falling by 50 percent again in August and September. Drops of 40 percent in October through December, and 30 percent in January through March would follow.
Under the best scenario: Japan sales will recover gradually until they match the year-ago level in November. That scenario relies on the fall launch of the Colt-Plus, a derivative of the Colt subcompact hatchback with expanded rear storage space.
The worst scenario sees Mitsubishi's Japan sales of 220,000 in the fiscal year ending March 31. The best-case scenario sees sales at 300,000.
Nissan Motor Co.'s sales also tumbled in July. But sales rose at three other major automakers: Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. Nissan's July sales fell 7.1 percent. Sales of its March compact model slid 24.4 percent in July from July 2003. Toyota brand sales rose 3.9 percent, led by the Corolla, Japan's No. 2 seller, and the newly launched Passo compact.
Honda did the best. Sales jumped 17.7 percent. Sales were led by the facelifted Fit compact plus two minivans, the Odyssey and the new Elysion, which was launched in May. Sales of those three models accounted for more than 40 percent of Honda's volume in Japan.
Mazda's sales rose 2.0 percent compared to July 2003. The Axela, known as the Mazda3 outside Japan, and the Verisa compact, launched in June, were Mazda's best performers.
Overall sales of compact cars fell 4.6 percent. Sales of regular-sized cars climbed 10.4 percent. Minivehicle sales firmed up with a 3.8 percent rise compared to last year. Imports dropped 2.6 percent.