By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, May 24 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average fell to more than two-week lows on Thursday as automakers slumped after the Trump administration launched a national security investigation into car and truck imports that could lead to new U.S. tariffs.
The Nikkei .N225 ended 1.1 percent lower at 22,437.01, the lowest closing since May 9.
The Nikkei volatility index .JNIV soared to 18.29, the highest level since mid-April.
The transport equipment sector .ITEQP.T tumbled 3.0 percent and was the board's worst performer after news of the U.S. probe. Motor Corp 7203.T fell 3.1 percent, Subaru Corp 7270.T dropped 2.5 percent and Mazda Motor Corp 7261.T plunged 5.2 percent.
"Sentiment in the auto sector is bad with the tariff concerns, and a strong yen is pouring salt on the wound," said Takashi Ito, equity market strategist at Nomura Securities.
The dollar weakened 0.5 percent to 109.54 yen JPY= in Asian trade, a day after the greenback lost 0.73 percent, its biggest fall in nearly three months.
GS Yuasa 6674.T , which makes automotive lithium-ion batteries with Honda, stumbled 4.5 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the automaker will team up with Contemporary Amperex Technology, the world's largest battery maker, to develop electric vehicle batteries that it seeks as key to its global strategy.
Discount clothing chain Shimamura 8227.T dived 5.8 percent after its May same-store sales dropped 7.7 percent on the year due to cold weather.
The broader Topix .TOPX dropped 1.2 percent to 1,775.65. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)
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