Best-Selling Cars

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2015 (Q3) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

by Henk Bekker

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Toyota and Honda remained Japan’s best-selling car brands during the first nine months of 2015. The Aqua was again the favorite car model. Year-to-date 2015, the Japanese new vehicle market shrunk by 9.5% with most of the largest car manufacturing selling fewer cars in 2015 than in 2014. Mercedes Benz replaced Volkswagen as the strongest car importer into Japan.

Mazda at the Geneva Auto Show 2015

Japanese New Vehicle Market in 2015 (Q3)

New vehicle registrations in Japan during the first nine months of 2015 were down by 9.5% to 3,908,150 vehicles, including passenger cars, trucks and buses.

In 2015, Japanese new car sales were lower all year after figures were distorted in 2014 due to an increase in sales tax on April 1, 2014. This led many buyers to bringing purchases forward and a very strong first quarter in 2014. Although figures started to even out as 2015 progresses, the Japanese car market remained weak despite the launch of new car models.

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Best-Selling Vehicle Manufacturers in Japan in 2015 (Q1-3)

The top-selling car and vehicle brands in Japan during the first nine months of 2015 were as follows according to car sales statistics released by JADA:

2015

Brand

Q1-3/2015

Q1-3/2014

% Change

Total

3,908,150

4,318,311

-9.5

1

Toyota

1,098,897

1,180,748

-6.9

2

Honda

569,458

682,428

-16.6

3

Suzuki

492,922

587,042

-16

4

Nissan

471,224

544,231

-13.4

5

Daihatsu

466,288

529,199

-11.9

6

Mazda

202,175

172,290

17.3

7

Subaru

127,277

133,208

-4.5

8

Mitsubishi

81,554

102,846

-20.7

9

Isuzu

58,246

57,299

1.7

10

Mercedes-Benz

49,666

43,873

13.2

11

Hino

45,804

42,292

8.3

12

VW

44,193

50,037

-11.7

13

Lexus

35,176

33,141

6.1

14

BMW

34,040

33,318

2.2

15

Audi

23,617

23,444

0.7

16

BMW MINI

15,119

12,126

24.7

17

Mitsubishi Fuso

12,137

32,056

4.1

18

Volvo

9,913

10,369

4.4

19

UD Trucks

8,443

7,931

6.5

20

Jeep

5,513

5,056

9

21

Porsche

4,880

3,535

38

22

Peugeot

4,381

4,324

1.3

23

Fiat

4,284

5,996

-28.6

24

Renault

3,969

3,506

13.2

25

Ford

3,699

3,765

-1.2

Best-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2015 (Q1-3)

There were only very minor changes in the rank order of the top-selling car brands in Japan during the first three quarters of 2015 compared to a year ago. The nine best-selling car marques remained unchanged. Mercedes Benz is a new entry at tenth place at the expense of Volkswagen.

Toyota easily remained the strongest vehicle manufacturer in Japan. Although sales were 7% weaker than a year ago, Toyota gained some market share.

Honda, Suzuki Nissan and Daihatsu all maintained their relative rank positions but all had much weaker sales compared to a year ago.

In contrast, Mazda sales improved by a strong 17% – the best performance by any Japanese brand thus far in 2015. Subaru sales were weaker but better than the market average. Mitsubishi sales were down by a fifth – the worst performer of the top-twenty brands. Commercial vehicle manufacturer Isuzu had slightly stronger sales.

Most of the smaller manufacturers had stronger sales but the unit numbers are small with relative little influence on the performance of the total Japanese new car market.

Mercedes Benz moved into the top-ten and replaced Volkswagen as Japan’s favorite imported car brand. VW slipped two places to twelfth with sales weak even before the emission scandal broke at the end of September 2015. In Japan, a loss in prestige may be the biggest damage for VW, as its diesel cars are not sold on the Japanese market.

Lexus again moved ahead of BMW while Mini was the most improved of the top twenty best-selling car brands in Japan thus far this year. Of manufacturers selling more than 2,000 cars this year, only Porsche performed better. New models always have a strong impact on sales in Japan.

Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2015 (Q2 & Q3)

The following were the top-ten best-selling car models in Japan during the six months from April to September 2015, according to JADA car sales statistics:

Brand

Model

Q2+Q3/2015

% Change

1

Toyota

Aqua

96,516

-7.5

2

Toyota

Corolla

59,469

11

3

Toyota

Prius

53,973

-27.9

4

Honda

Fit

53,579

-42

5

Nissan

Note

44,380

-1.3

6

Toyota

Voxy

42,235

-33

7

Toyota

Vitz

36,495

-19.5

8

Mazda

Demio

35,513

159

9

Honda

Step WGN

33,246

71.5

10

Toyota

Esquire

32,678

New

The figures do not include Kei (mini) cars. However, the Aqua remained the top-selling car but the rest of the top-ten list would look quite different if these popular small cars models were included.

Sport and Exotic Car Sales in Japan in 2015 (Q1-3)

Exotic and especially Italian sports cars traditionally sell well in Japan. A few figures from JADA statistics:

Brand

Q1-3/2015

Q1-3/2014

% Change

Maserati

999

957

4.4

Jaguar

917

813

12.8

Ferrari

610

396

54

Lamborghini

285

121

135.5

Bentley

261

218

19.7

Lotus

226

243

-7

Rolls Royce

124

116

6.9

McLaren

59

68

-13.2

Bugatti

2

1

100

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