By on September 1, 2010

Japanese citizens raced to showrooms in August and bought cars as if they are going out of style. Domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses increased 46.7 percent from the same month in the year prior. There is a reason to this: Cars will be going out of style in Japan any moment now …

Currently, demand is being propped up by government incentives for “fuel efficient cars” – which is pretty much anything that is street-legal in Japan. This program will officially end on October 1. However, rumors are making the rounds that the Japanese government may stop taking applications earlier. In any case, October will definitely be the end of rising car sales in Japan. If you’ve ever seen a pull-forward effect, then this is it. Anybody who’s remotely thinking of buying a car in Japan is buying now and not after the end of the month. (There will be a few additional months for diesels and electric vehicles.)

Japanese sales have risen the 13th straight month, according to Japan Automobile Dealers Association data published by The Nikkei [sub]. 290,789 vehicles changed hands in August, up from 198,265 vehicles in the same month in the previous year. This number excludes minivehicles.

CNBC has minivehicles rising by 21.7 percent to 134,197 units. This works out as a total of 424,986 units sold, up 37.7 percent.

Shares of major Japanese automakers had a mixed reaction to the glad tidings.

The Honda share crept up a bit, buoyed by the news that Honda’s domestic sales were up 61.3 percent in August, outperforming the market.

The Toyota share continued its fall, pulled down by worries about a still strengthening Yen and the end of the government subsidies, along with the fact that Toyota sales (+43.1 percent) slightly underperformed the market.

Domestic Automobile Sales Japan August 2010

Units Change
Toyota Motor 132471 43.1%
Nissan Motor 44857 44.6%
Honda Motor 50195 61.3%
Mazda Motor 21641 59.8%
Mitsubishi Motors 6645 47.0%
Suzuki Motor 4444 4.0%
Fuji Heavy 6209 70.6%
Imports 19716 74.9%
Excluding minivehicles. Data by Reuters

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