Sales of new cars, trucks and buses in Japan reportedly slid for the third straight month in June from the previous year, dragged down by a tumble in demand for vehicles made by scandal-hit Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
According to Reuters, industry-wide sales in the world’s second-biggest auto market fell 3.2% last month to 481,659 vehicles.
The decline was somewhat curbed by a 2.4% rise in sales of 660cc minivehicles, popular as second cars in rural areas, which gained for the seventh straight month to 158,356 units, the report added, citing the Japan Mini Vehicle Association.
The Japan Automobile Dealers Association reportedly said demand for all other vehicles sank 5.7% to 323,303 units as sales of compact cars and trucks dropped by more than 10%.
Reuters said the slide was sharpest at Mitsubishi Motors, which has seen customers flee after recent revelations that it had continued to hide dangerous vehicle defects despite promising to clean up its act after a similar scandal four years ago.
Mitsubishi had said a day earlier it planned to issue a recall for a total of 154,715 cars by next week, including some models with defects that had caused accidents involving injuries, the report noted.
The company’s problems reportedly have worsened in recent weeks after several cases of its vehicles catching fire while being driven.
Mitsubishi Motors’ sales of non-mini vehicles plunged 64% last month to just 4,885 units, bringing the total for the first six months to 52,714 units, down 34%, according to Reuters, which noted that placed it below Fuji Heavy Industries for the January to June period in a huge reversal of fortune from last year, when Mitsubishi sold twice as many cars as the maker of niche-market Subaru vehicles.
However, Reuters said that, for the first six months of this year, overall vehicle sales inched up 0.5% to 3.042 million units – minivehicles gained 8.1% to 1.012 million units, while non-mini vehicles fell 2.8% to 2.03 million.
Sales of non-minis at industry leader Toyota fell 3.5% in June, while demand at second-ranked Nissan slid 8.7% and Honda Motor was unchanged, the report said, adding that Mazda, the smallest of the top five carmakers, gained 4.7% in June, helped by brisk demand for the Axela  compact.