Top minicar makers Daihatsu and Suzuki are beefing up their sales efforts in urban areas where Honda is gaining on the two with new models.

The Nikkei said Daihatsu will open some 60 dealerships, mostly in greater Tokyo and Osaka, by fiscal 2015, with a roughly JPY10bn spend by affiliated sales companies. The move will boost the firm's nationwide tally, now around 670, by roughly 10%.

The country's top minicar seller has transformed about 70% of its dealerships into cafe-style facilities in a bid to appeal to women who account for 60% of minicar purchasers. Its new locations will feature the same design.

Suzuki will expand some dealerships so they can accommodate both a showroom and a service department. The company boasts a strong sales channel through regional repair shops but these locations are small. It will build an extension at directly run sites to secure enough space for displaying cars and negotiating sales.

Locations larger than about 3,000 sq m now account for 10% of its total network. Suzuki will raise this number to roughly 20% by the fiscal year's end.

Daihatsu and Suzuki are desperate to defend their turf from Honda which raised its share of the minicar market by 7% year on year to about 16% in the first 10 months of 2012 with its new N Box.

Honda is stepping up sales of small cars at its 2,162 dealerships which until recently had mostly carried compacts and larger cars.