Industry sources say that Japanese vehicle output jumped 9.3% against year-ago levels to stand at around 803,000 units. It was the second successive month of growth and reflects strong gains in exports. Production for the domestic market remains relatively depressed.

The Japanese auto industry trade association, JAMA, now forecasts that first half output will record growth for the first time in two years.

Production of passenger cars in May grew 11.2% to 675,343 units, marking the first double-digit growth in 25 months.

Nissan's entry to the minicar segment helped production in the segment to surge 11.1% to 101,533 units in May. Nissan's first minicar - the Nissan Moco - is produced for Nissan by minicar specialist Suzuki.