Japan’s auto import sales rise 5.1 percent in July


Sales of imported automobiles in Japan rose 5.1 percent in July from a year earlier, with increases by German manufacturers including Volkswagen AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, an industry association said Monday.

A total of 23,185 cars and trucks were sold in July, up from 22,050 vehicles sold in the same month of last year, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said. No single bus was sold in July.

It was the first time in two months that sales of imported cars posted an increase on-year, said Takayuki Shimosaka, an association spokesman.

Shimosaka said German automakers boosted their sales in Japan with new models, including VW’s Lupo model, as well as on lowered prices earlier this year.

Shimosaka said, however, that it was difficult to predict whether the imported vehicle market will expand in coming months in Japan amid a slowing economy. The nation’s jobless rate is at a record 4.9 percent.

Volkswagen sold 6,098 vehicles last month, up 14.4 percent from July of 2000. Volkswagen’s sales accounted for a 26.30 percent share of Japan’s imported vehicle market, the association said.

Mercedes-Benz, the second-largest importer, sold 4,226 vehicles, up 28.6 percent and took imported market share of 18.23 percent.

BMW’s sales climbed 5.6 percent to 2,509 vehicles, giving it a 10.82 percent share of the import market.

Volvo, a unit of Ford, sold 1,426 vehicles in Japan, up 30.6 percent. Volvo’s share of the import market was 6.15 percent in July.

Opel, the German arm of General Motors Corp. of the United States, reported that sales fell 9.0 percent in July on year to 1,143 vehicles.

Peugeot, France’s largest automaker, sold 835 vehicles in Japan last month, down 25.6 percent.

Among U.S. automakers, Chrysler’s sales of imported vehicles totaled 796, up 10.6 percent and a 3.43 percent share of the import market. Sales of Ford Motor Co. fell 42.5 percent to 552 vehicles. Chevrolet, GM unit, sold 742 vehicles, down 3.8 percent.