TOKYO (AP) _ Sales of imported cars in Japan rose by 2 percent in June from a year earlier, the first advance in 18 months, the Japan Automobile Importers’ Association said Tuesday.
But association spokesman Ken Kanno was quick to add that a big factor behind the increase was the introduction of new models by Volkswagen. It was too early to say whether the downward trend in import sales had ended, he said.
The rise in June sales was the first since December 1990, the association said.
The association said 18,156 imported cars, buses and trucks were sold last month, compared with 17,800 during the same period last year.
It said total sales of foreign cars in Japan for the first six months of this year was 86,531 vehicles, down 12.4 percent from the corresponding period of 1991.
Consumer demand for cars and many other products has slumped along with a general slowdown in the Japanese economy.
German vehicles accounted for 59.42 percent of last month’s total foreign sales with 10,600 units, up 5.8 percent from last year.
American vehicle sales came in second with 3,415, up 4.4 percent, including ones assembled by Honda, Toyota and other Japanese plants in the United States.
Kanno said U.S. automakers are still much less enthusiastic about exploring Japan’s market than German companies.
In the month, sales of General Motors fell by 8.9 percent to 869; Ford sold 310 vehicles, up 17.7 percent; Chrysler sold 145, up 2.8 percent; Honda USA, 1,991, up 14.6 percent.
British vehicle sales fell by 13.2 percent to 1,274; French sales rose 5.1 percent to 913; Italian sales dropped 15.5 percent to 451; Swedish sales fell 11.9 percent to 1,056, the association said.