New vehicle sales in Japan rose for the first time in 13 months in August from a year earlier, industry figures showed Tuesday — the latest sign of improvement in the battered auto industry.
The Japan Automobile Dealers Association said 198,265 new cars, trucks and buses were sold last month, an increase of 2.3 percent on the year.
Japanese automakers are enjoying relatively brisk sales of fuel-efficient cars, helped by government incentives aimed at stimulating the weak economy.
The auto market here has suffered years of sluggishness as many Japanese, particularly young people in large cities, opt for public transport to avoid the high cost and taxes of maintaining cars.
Weak consumer spending during Japan’s worst post-war recession has also weighed on auto sales, while exports have slumped to major overseas markets, prompting Japanese makers to idle plants and slashed thousands of jobs.
Japan’s new auto sales logged a sixth straight annual fall in the year to March, hitting a 38-year low of 2.89 million vehicles. The figures do not include sales of mini-cars or mini-trucks with up to 660cc engines.