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JAPAN: Car sales falter in November after three good months - report

By just-auto.com editorial team | 2 December 2003

Japanese new vehicle sales slipped in November for the first time in three months but analysts told the Reuters news agency that the trend was broadly flat and that was likely to remain the case.

Industry-wide sales of new cars fell 4.8% in November from a year earlier to 457,701 vehicles, data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Mini Vehicle Association showed on Monday.

"This was weaker than we had expected," said Christopher Richter, an auto analyst at HSBC Securities, told Reuters

"But this has been a flat market for the last five years and I would expect the numbers to keep bouncing up and down for the next few months," reportedly said Richter, who forecasts overall sales would rebound with a 5% rise in December.

For the year to date, total sales are up 0.6% at 5,396,348 units, Reuters said.

According to the report, total sales were down at second-ranked Honda Motor despite the launch of a redesigned Odyssey minivan in late October, slumping 40.3% compared with November last year when the company had lured buyers with aggressive discount programmes.

A Honda spokeswoman told Reuters sales of the Odyssey had been strong and the fall could mainly be explained by a drop in sales of small cars like the Fit [Jazz] subcompact, which were surging a year earlier.

Sales at top car maker Toyota Motor edged down 2.6%, while Mitsubishi Motors posted a gain of 24%, Reuters said, noting that Mitsubishi's domestic sales have been recovering this year thanks to the launch of its [redesigned] Colt sub-compact and Grandis minivan.