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April 6, 2005

JAPAN: Imported vehicle sales off 3.8% in fiscal year

Sales of new imported motor vehicles in Japan, including those of foreign-built Japanese makes, fell 3.8% in fiscal 2004 from the previous year to 268,703 units, marking the first decline in three years, the Japan Automobile Importers Association told Kyodo News on Wednesday.

Sales of new imported motor vehicles in Japan, including those of foreign-built Japanese makes, fell 3.8% in fiscal 2004 from the previous year to 268,703 units, marking the first decline in three years, the Japan Automobile Importers Association told Kyodo News on Wednesday.

The association reportedly said the total for the year ended March 31 comprises 244,384 units manufactured by non-Japanese companies, down 0.5%, and 24,319 units produced by Japanese automakers at overseas factories, down 27.9%.

Reuters said the decline reflects fewer releases of new models of compact cars, the vehicles that have been bolstering the nation’s import car market, and intensified competition with vehicles made in Japan by domestic makers – sales of imported cars made by Japanese automakers overseas dropped sharply following a surge registered in fiscal 2003.

Volkswagen was the top-selling brand in fiscal 2004 with a 20.84% market share, selling 55,989 units, up 2.7%, the report said, Mercedes-Benz ranked second with a 15.83% share, selling 42,543 units, down 8.7%, and was followed by BMW with a 14.58% share on a 4.9% gain in sales to 39,166 units.

Toyota placed fourth with a 6.20% share, selling 16,654 units, up 2.2% and Volvo ranked fifth with a 5.43% market share, selling 14,598 units, down 0.7%, Kyodo News added.

The news agency noted that Toyota has been high in the sales ranking since it began marketing Avensis sedans and station wagons assembled at its British plant in Japan from October 2003.

In March alone, sales of new imported motor vehicles fell 2.5% from a year earlier to 36,252 units for the fourth straight monthly fall, the association reportedly said.

The March total comprises 33,732 units produced by non-Japanese firms, up 3.9%, and 2,520 units produced overseas by Japanese automakers, down 46.6%, Kyodo News said.

Volkswagen was the top-selling brand in March with a 23.22% market share, selling 8,417 units, up 8.2%, Mercedes-Benz was second with a 17.36% share, selling 6,295 units, down 6.1%, and BMW was third with a 14.87% share on a 3.6% rise in sales to 5,390 units.

The January-March total of new imported car sales decreased 5.7% from a year before to 69,202 units, the association told Kyodo News.

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