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Car Sales Steady In Feb

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Indian carmakers, led by top player Maruti Suzuki, posted steady growth in sales for February, the penultimate month in an otherwise disappointing fiscal year.

Maruti, 54.2 per cent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, said it sold 118,949 vehicles in February, an increase of 6.5 percent from the year-ago period.

The company, which suffered significant production losses in 2011 due a strike, last month reported its first monthly sales rise since May 2011.

Shares in Maruti, valued at about $7.5 billion, jumped as much as 5 per cent to 1,317.60 rupees in a weak Mumbai market.

Tata Motors, which makes the Nano, the world's cheapest car, also posted a 19 per cent jump in February sales.

Tata Motors also owns the luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands, but their sales are not included in the company's monthly figures.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, India's largest maker of utility vehicles and tractors, said total vehicle sales for February jumped 29 percent to 43,087, while exports surged 86 percent.

Annual car sales in India are expected to drop in the year ending in March for the first time since 2002, as high financing and running costs deterred buyers in one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

Car Sales Jump In Japan
Car sales in Japan jumped in February as government efforts to revive domestic sales and replenished inventories drew buyers into showrooms in the world's third-largest car market.

New automobile sales in Japan surged 29.5 percent year-on-year to 519,626 vehicles in February, industry data showed on Thursday. Excluding 660cc minivehicles, sales jumped 31.9 percent to 333,213 vehicles, the sixth consecutive month of annual gains.

Japanese automakers are expecting a standout home market in 2012 following the extension of tax incentives for fuel-efficient cars and the return of subsidies to encourage replacement of older cars with new, cleaner vehicles.

"Customer understanding (of a recovery in supply and government incentives) is rising, so we have similar expectations for March," said Michiro Saito, an official at the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

In 2011, Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami then flooding in Thailand, a major manufacturing base, caused autoparts shortages and production suspensions, cutting inventories and sales.

Japanese auto demand is expected to rise 19 percent in 2012, partly due to higher sales in tsunami-hit areas, where thousands of cars were destroyed, and thanks to government efforts to stimulate demand.

The incentives especially favour hybrids, pure electric cars and other vehicles that employ advanced technology such as clean diesel engines. That particularly benefits Toyota Motor Corp  and Honda Motor Co.

Sales at top-ranked Toyota, excluding its Lexus brand, soared 38.2 percent last month, while those of Honda jumped 46.7 per cent.