Japan's new vehicle market declined by 2.2% to 473,878 units in February from strong year-earlier sales of 484,725 units, according to registration data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).

This was the fifth consecutive monthly decline for the market from relatively high year-earlier levels, after the country posted its longest period of uninterrupted economic growth since the boom years of the 1980s. GDP expanded by a revised 2.0% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, driven by improving consumer spending and strong exports.

In the first two months of 2018 the vehicle market was 1.5% lower at 873,418 units from 886,375 units a year earlier, with passenger vehicle sales falling by 2.0% to 741,387 units while truck sales increased by 2.2% to 130,094 units. Medium and heavy-duty bus sales were sharply lower in this period, by 17.7% at 1,937 units, after particularly strong growth in previous years.

Toyota's sales fell by 6.5% to 106,744 units in the two-month period, while second-placed Honda's saw volume drop by 0.8% to 125,168 units. Nissan continued to stabilise its sales after a sharp decline in the fourth quarter of last year in the wake of its quality inspection scandal, with sales by falling by just 0.6% to 120,698 units; followed by Suzuki with 116,698 units (+2.8%); Daihatsu 112,494 units (+9.1%); and Mazda 36,404 units (-0.1%).

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