New vehicle sales in Japan increased strongly in November, by 7.4% to 417,602 units from 388,816 units a year earlier, according to registration data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).

This follows two months of stagnant sales, in September and October, with the continued fall in minivehicle sales offsetting strong demand for larger vehicles. 

Last month followed a similar pattern, except that sales of other vehicle types were much stronger. The overall market was driven higher by particularly strong Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Nissan sales. 

Economic growth in the country remains sluggish, despite low unemployment levels, negative interest rates and other stimulus measures introduced by the government to help drive up domestic consumption. The government this week revised down its initial third-quarter GDP growth estimates to 1.5%, from 2.2% previously.

In the first 11 months of 2016, total vehicle sales fell by 2.2% to 4,572,726 units, from weak year earlier sales of 4,677,051 units. Passenger vehicle sales declined by 2.4% to 3,813,634 units in this period; truck sales were 1.6% lower at 744,918 units; while bus sales rose by 15.5% to 14,174 units.

Toyota outperformed over the 11-month period thanks, in part, to its limited exposure to the minivehicle segment, with its sales rising by 5% year on year to 1,403,578 units. Second placed Honda reported a 3.8% sales drop to 652,300 units; Suzuki 579,977 units (-2.4%); Daihatsu 541,469 units (-4%); Nissan 487,627 units (-11.6%); and Mazda 190,711 units (-18.3%). 

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