TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co.'s push into the compact car segment helped it post the biggest gain among Japan's Big 5 in Japanese sales in the second quarter.
Nissan's sales in the April-through-June period jumped 18.6 percent from a year earlier, gaining momentum from four new compact cars. The four debuted late last year and this year.
The new Tiida drove the gain, making the Top 10 list for the three months.
A Tiida derivative, smaller than the Sentra, is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms as early as next year.
The Fit, another hot compact car, helped lift Honda Motor Co. 14.3 percent in the quarter.
A version of the Fit is coming to the United States next year.
The remodeled Step Wagon, launched on May 27, contributed to Honda's gain. The minivan offers an optional faux-wood floor. Thirty percent of initial orders included the optional floor.
Sales at Toyota Motor Corp. rose 6.1 percent with help of compact cars such as the Corolla and the Vitz, called the Yaris outside Japan.
Mazda Motor Corp. sales gained 8.3 percent. But Mitsubishi Motors Corp. lost ground with a 2.8 percent drop.
Japan's compact-car segment in the quarter was healthy, showing a 15.4 percent rise from the same period of last year to 456,836.
Total Japanese sales in the second quarter rose 7.6 percent to 1,345,561. For the six months of this year, Japanese sales jumped 42.3 percent to 4,315,741.
General Motors lost ground, while Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler fared better.
Sales of the aging Cruze, developed by GM and Suzuki Motor Corp. and sold by Suzuki, plunged 57.2 percent, more than offsetting stronger sales of Chevrolet imports.
Ford Motor sales gained 7.4 percent, supported by healthy Volvo sales. DaimlerChrysler sales jumped 17.6 percent, driven up by its flagship brand, Mercedes.