New car and truck sales could fall nearly 12% this year to around 4.74m without new incentives the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has said.

Subsidies for fuel-efficient cars pushed sales to 5.36m last year, up  27.5% but the forecast for 2013, the first decline in two years, is in line with 2009-10 levels. Sales are expected to fall back because of "the longer interval between replacements," said JAMA vice-chairmanYoshiyasu Nao.

The association does not anticipate a rush of car buying ahead of a consumption tax increase in April because it sees a reduction in the acquisition tax cancelling out the higher sales levy. Sales of passenger cars are expected to fall 12.9% to 3.98m this year while truck sales are seen falling 5.1% and buses down 4.5%.

Minicar sales are not expected to be as badly affected because of their lower prices and maintenance costs, JAMA added.

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