August automobile sales in Japan fell 9.4% year-over-year, but remain higher year to date by the same amount. Through the first 8 months of 2014 sales totaled 3.79 million units.
The drop in August sales was attributed to a 3% rise (to 8%) in the country’s consumption tax that took effect last month. Prior to the higher tax rate, auto sales were higher in each of the first seven months of the year according to auto industry research firm focus2move.
Of the five top-selling brands, only second-ranked Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) posted a year-over-year gain. Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), the country’s market share leader, saw a 12.6% drop in sales compared with August 2013. Nissan, Daihatsu, and Mazda posted year-over-year sales declines of 17.5%, 18.4%, and 15.8%, respectively.
The top-selling non-Japanese car maker in August was Mercedes, which sold 4,568 units in the month to rank 10th. The company’s market share in August was 1.4%. Volkswagen was the second-best foreign automaker, with an August share of 1.1% and unit sales of 3,729.
The top-selling U.S. brand was Jeep, from Chrysler Group LLC, ranked 20th with sales of 455 units and a market share of 0.1%. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) sold 261 units in August and General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevrolet sold 76 units.
When Ford begins delivering its 2015 Mustangs to foreign markets the car will ship with right-hand drive to Japan, the U.K., and other countries that insist on driving on the wrong side of the road. Maybe that will give Ford sales a boost in Japanese market.