Sales of new motor vehicles in Japan fell for the 12th month in a row with July sales off 4.2% year on year to 289,927 units, according to the local auto dealers association.

The rate of fall for cars, buses and trucks, excluding minivehicles, was, however, down from the 13.5% dip  in June, the dealer group said.

Passenger car sales fell 0.6% to 266,173 units, truck sales plunged 32% to 22,856 units and bus sales dropped 26.9% to 898 units, the association told Kyodo News.

Toyota sales fell 3% to 135,535 units, with the pace of decline narrowing from a two-digit fall as the new Prius hybrid sold well after a May launch (becoming Japan's top selling car that month).

Honda saw an 8.9% rise to 44,048 units thanks to the redesigned Insight hybrid (also a top seller till the revamped Prius arrived), recent government tax breaks and subsidies for eco friendly cars.

Nissan Motor sales dipped 1% to 49,575 units while Mazda Motor volume fell 12.7% to 16,686 units and Mitsubishi Motors booked an 8.7% drop to 5,412 units.