Japan auto sales rise first time in 13 months

Nissan Motor vehicles are exhibited at its company headquarters in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo. Japan's domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses saw their first rise in 13 months in September, reflecting the industry's rebound from the huge disruption sparked by Japan's quake and tsunami

Japan's domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses saw their first rise in 13 months in September, reflecting the industry's rebound from the huge disruption sparked by Japan's quake and tsunami.

Sales in September grew 1.7 percent from a year earlier to 313,790 vehicles, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Monday.

The figures do not include sales of mini vehicles -- which have an engine capacity of 660 cc or less -- and reflect a low basis of comparison from the same period a year earlier, when state subsidies for the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles ended.

Sales had been slowing since then, the drop exacerbated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which damaged factories and crippled supply chains, forcing the likes of Toyota to shutter plants and halt production.

Sales dived 50 percent in April and 38 percent in May, as consumer demand took a hit.

Monday's data follows figures released last week that showed higher auto production and exports in August, illustrating the Japanese auto sector's recovery, enabling dealers to offer a better variety of cars to buyers.

But despite the improvement, auto sales fell 25.6 percent to 1.25 million vehicles in the six months ended September compared to a year earlier.

Japanese auto manufacturers estimate that domestic vehicle sales will be the lowest in 34 years in the fiscal year ending March 2012 due to the impact of the March disasters.