2014 (Q3) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid at Geneva Auto Salon 20142014 (January to September): Toyota was again the top-selling car brand in Japan with the Aqua and Honda Fit the best-selling models. After an excellent first quarter, new vehicle registrations in Japan has been weaker during the last six months but still showing 6% growth for the first three quarters of the year. Honda was the most-improved brand with sales up by nearly a quarter while sales for market leader Toyota were flat. Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz remained the top-selling foreign brands in Japan thus far in 2014 .

The Japanese Vehicle Market in 2014 (January to September)

New vehicle registrations in Japan during the first three quarters of 2014 increased by 6% to 1,180,749 vehicles. This figure includes passenger cars, cargo vehicles and buses.

During the first quarter of 2014, the Japanese car market boomed in anticipation of the increase of sales taxes in Japan on April 1, 2014. First quarter 2014, vehicle registrations increased by 21% but slipped to 11% by mid-year and down to 6% during the first three quarters of 2014.

Best-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2014 (Q1-Q3)

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

Manufacturer Q1-3/2014 Q1-3/2013 % Change
Total 4โ€™318โ€™313 4โ€™073โ€™265 6
1 Toyota 1โ€™180โ€™749 1โ€™174โ€™213 0.6
2 Honda 682โ€™428 547โ€™807 24.6
3 Suzuki 587โ€™042 534โ€™479 9.8
4 Nissan 544โ€™231 528โ€™035 3.1
5 Daihatsu 529โ€™199 505โ€™475 4.7
6 Mazda 172โ€™291 177โ€™055 -2.7
7 Subaru 133โ€™208 143โ€™073 -6.9
8 Mitsubishi 102โ€™846 108โ€™250 -5
9 Isuzu 57โ€™299 47โ€™350 21
10 VW 50โ€™037 48โ€™384 3.4
11 Mercedes-Benz 43โ€™873 39โ€™179 12
12 Hino 42โ€™292 34โ€™737 21.7
13 BMW 33โ€™318 33โ€™059 0.8
14 Lexus 33โ€™141 35โ€™053 -5.5
15 Mitsubishi Fuso 32โ€™056 26โ€™533 20.8
16 Audi 23โ€™444 21โ€™361 9.8
17 BMW MINI 12โ€™126 12โ€™393 -2.2
18 Volvo 10โ€™369 15โ€™530 -18.5
19 UD Trucks 7โ€™931 6โ€™672 18.9
20 Fiat 5โ€™996 5โ€™171 16

Top-Selling Carmakers in Japan in 2014 (Q1-Q3)

There were very few changes in the rank order of the top-selling car brands in Japan during the first nine months of 2014 compared to a year ago. However, the relative performances differ quite significantly.

Toyota easily maintained its traditional position as the strongest vehicle manufacturer in Japan despite flat sales. In contrast, Honda saw sales increase by 25% or more than 120,000 vehicles. Third-placed Suzuki (10%) was the only other top-performing carmaker to have outperformed the broader market.

The only change in rank position amongst the top-ten best-selling vehicle manufacturers was Isuzu overtaking Volkswagen. Cargo vehicle manufacturers on the whole did very well this year: sales of Isuzu, Hino, Mitsubishi Fuso and UD Trucks were all up by around a fifth.

Although Volkswagen remained the top foreign carmaker on the Japanese market during the first nine months of 2014, Mercedes-Benz did best by increasing sales by 12%. In contrast, sales of BMW were flat but still allowed the Bavarian manufacturer to overtake its main Japanese rival Lexus, which had weaker sales. Audi sales increased by a tenth .

Volvo saw sales decline by 18.5% โ€“ the worst performance of the top-20 manufacturers in Japan. The worst-performing Japanese brand was Subaru โ€“ down 7%.

Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2014 (Q2+Q3)

The top-ten best-selling car models in Japan during the six months (April to September 2014) according to car sales statistics released by JADA were:

Rank Model* Brand Q2+Q3 2014 % Change**
1 Aqua Toyota 104,340 -18.5
2 Fit Honda 92,440 36.1
3 Prius Toyota 74,885 -38.4
4 Voxy Toyota 63,040 218.6
5 Vezel Honda 57,693 New
6 Corolla Toyota 53,552 24.7
7 Vitz Toyota 45,340 9.9
8 Note Nissan 44,980 -32.1
9 Noah Toyota 35,718 131.3
10 Serena Nissan 32,177 -26.3
* Excluding Kei cars
** % Change compared to previous six months

The Toyota Aqua successfully fought of the challenge of the new Honda Fit to remain the most-popular car model in Japan during the six-month period April to September 2014 โ€“ mid-year the Aqua was less than 2,000 cars ahead. However, Aqua sales were down by nearly a fifth while Fit sales increased by more than a third.

Sales of the Toyota Prius, for years the most-popular car model in Japan, slipped by 38% placing this mid-size hybrid car a distant third behind the more compact leaders. In contrast, sales of the Toyota Voxy minibus more than doubled.

The Honda Vezel โ€“ a small crossover model, known as the HRV in many overseas markets โ€“ was launched in December 2013 and continued to sell very well. The evergreen Toyota Corolla increased sales again by a quarter with the smaller Toyota Vitz also recording an above average ten percent increase in sales.

Sales of the Nissan Note slipped by a third with the second Nissan amongst the top-ten โ€“ the Serena โ€“ also saw sales down by more than a quarter. The large Toyota Noah minibus could increase sales by a third.