2014 (Half Year) Japan: Best-Selling Car Manufacturers and Models

New vehicle registrations in Japan increased by 11% during the first six months of 2014. Toyota was the strongest manufacturer and the Aqua the top-selling car model.

Honda FCEV Concept at the Geneva Auto Salon 2014

In the first semester of 2014, the Japanese new vehicle market expanded by 10.8% to just over 3 million new vehicle registrations. The growth came despite an increase in sales taxes in April. Toyota remained the strongest carmaker in Japan with the Aqua the most popular car model in Japan thus far in 2014. The Honda Fit was second with the Prius down from first last year to third.

The Japanese Vehicle Market in 2014 (First Half)

The Japanese new vehicle market grew by 10.8% to 3,005,806 vehicles including cars, trucks and buses. The first quarter of 2014 saw the Japanese market expand by 20.7% in anticipation of a sales tax increase from 5% to 8% on April 1, 2014.

Although the Japanese car market cooled down during the second quarter, the decrease in vehicle sales was less than expected. In April sales were down 5%, in May down 1.3% and in June grew by 0.4%.

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in Japan in 2014 (Half Year)

The top-selling vehicle manufacturers in Japan during the first six months of 2014 according to car sales statistics released by JADA were:

ManufacturersFirst Half 2014First Half 2013% Change
15Mitsubishi Fuso21’54716’81728.1
17BMW MINI7’7958’2986.1
19DU Trucks5’4324’18129.2

Source: JADA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2014 (Six Months)

There were no changes in the top-ten best-selling car marques in Japan from January to June 2014 compared to a year ago. The only change in the total top-20 brands was Lexus slipping down two positions. Significantly, the car brand that surpassed Lexus was BMW.

Toyota underperformed the broader market but easily maintained its position as Japan’s strongest car brand.

In contrast, sales of Honda cars were up nearly a third as the best-performing car marque in Japan during the first half of 2014. This strong performance allowed Honda to pull further ahead of third-placed Suzuki. During the first semester of 2013, the difference was less than 8,000 cars.

Subaru (-8.2%) was the worst performing brand in Japan during the first half of 2014. Only two other marques had negative growth: Lexus and Volvo.

Volkswagen remained the strongest imported car brand in Japan despite narrowly underperforming the broader market. Of the imported brands, only Mercedes-Benz and Audi outperformed.

Top 10 Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2014 (First Half)

The ten most popular car models in Japan during the first six months of 2014 according to car sales statistics released by JADA were:

Pos 2013Pos 2014ModelManufacturer1 – 6 / 2014% Change

Source: JADA

The Toyota Aqua took over from the Toyota Prius as the most popular car model in Japan during the first half of 2014. The Aqua also outsold the Prius for the full year 2013.

The Honda Fit regained the position as the second most popular car in Japan. The new Fit was launched towards the end of 2013 and has been selling well. The Fit led the charts in Japan every month this year except February and June. The Fit represented a quarter of all Honda sales in Japan during the first semester of 2014. The Honda Fit was Japan’s favorite car model in 2008.

The Toyota Prius, which topped the list during the first semester of 2013, slipped to third this year with sales down by a fifth. The Prius was Japan’s favorite car from 2009 to 2012 but has been surpassed by the smaller Aqua hybrid model.

The evergreen Toyota Corolla improved four places from a year ago with a solid performance. The Corolla is now in its 11th generation in Japan with the current model having been launched in 2012.

The Nissan Note slipped two places from a year ago. In 2013, the Note benefited from its launch the year before but sales were down a quarter during the first six months of 2014, mostly due to strong competition from the new Fit.

The Toyota Voxy was the most-improved car model on the list of top-ten best-selling cars in Japan. A new version of this highly popular small minivan was launched earlier in 2014.

The Toyota Vitz was again in seventh place – the only car on the list to have maintained its relative position from a year ago.

The Honda Vezel – a compact crossover model – was launched in December 2013 and ended the first six months on sale in a strong eighth place.

The Nissan Serena slipped from 5th to 9th. Both Nissan models on the top-ten list had weaker sales. In contrast, the Nissan X-Trail, at 11th, saw sales improve by near 150%.

The Toyota Noah, as sister car of the Voxy, is also a minibus that benefited from a model update early in 2014. Sales doubled from a year ago.

The three car models that dropped out of the top-10 list are the Toyota Crown (6th to 15th), the Honda Freed (9th to 14 th) and the Honda Stepwagon (10th to 18th).

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About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.