Japan’s new auto sales rose 3.5 percent in 2014 from 2013 to 5,562,887 vehicles for the third straight yearly increase, as strong sales of minivehicles more than offset downward pressure on sales from the consumption tax hike in April, data released by industry bodies showed Monday.
Sales of cars other than minivehicles rose 0.8 percent in the 12 months to 3,290,098 units, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.
Those of minivehicles, which have an engine of 660 cc or less, increased 7.6 percent to a record 2,272,789 units, said the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association.
Carmakers have been among industries most heavily hit by the sales tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent, which has weighed on consumer and business spending in the country. But they also saw a demand surge resulting from last-minute buying by consumers in the months ahead of the tax increase.
Minivehicles have attracted consumers with their relatively low price and high fuel efficiency, characteristics increasingly focused on after the tax increase.
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