Yanase & Co, a Japanese chain that sells imported cars, is slashing the number of dealerships handling General Motors vehicles, which have long been unpopular in Japan, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Yanase sells GM vehicles at 26 of the c.160 dealerships it operates in Japan but has not yet decided how many it will keep to sell GM cars, including Cadillac and Hummer models, Yanase spokesman Kazuya Fukushiro told AP on Friday.

The news agency noted that GM recently said it would stop selling Opel models in Japan, although it would continue to sell Cadillacs, Hummers and Corvettes.

Yanase reportedly said it would switch GM showrooms to Mercedes-Benz models, which continue to be popular in Japan among imports.

The Associated Press said US cars have long had a reputation as poorly made 'gas-guzzlers' in Japan.

Yanase, which began selling GM cars here in 1915, sold just 3,000 GM cars in Japan last year, and that may shrink to half soon, Fukushiro told the news agency, adding that, to the end of May, sales totaled about 1,000.

The report said that the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily reported on Friday that Yanase dealerships selling GM will be slashed to six or seven by October.

Fukushiro reportedly said a reduction was definitely in the works but numbers weren't decided yet.