2015 (Q1) Japan: Best-Selling Car Manufacturers, Brands and Models

NIssan Sway at the Geneva Auto Show 2014Toyota and Honda remained the top selling vehicle manufacturers and brands in Japan in the first quarter of 2015. The Aqua was Japan’s favorite car model. New vehicle registrations in Japan contracted by 14.4% during the first three months of 2015 with all major brands experiencing large declines in sales. Heavy truck manufacturers generally performed better than passenger car producers. The Toyota Aqua was again Japan’s top-selling car model followed by the Toyota Prius and the Honda Fit.

The Japanese Vehicle Market in 2015 (Q1)

The Japanese new vehicle market , including passenger cars, trucks and buses, contracted by 14.4% during the first quarter of 2015 to 1,578,879 vehicles. Manufacturers of heavy vehicles generally performed better than carmakers indicating more strength in the Japanese economy.

The contraction at the start of 2015 was largely expected. A sales tax increase on April 1, 2014, encouraged Japanese buyers to bring purchases forward leading to an exceptionally strong first quarter last year. Vehicle sales in Japan during the first three months of 2015 were still around 50,000 vehicles more than during the same period in 2013.

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in Japan in 2015 (Q1)

The top 20 best-selling vehicle manufacturers in Japan during the first three months of 2015 according to new vehicle registration figures released by JADA were:

Q1/2014 Q1/2015 Manufacturer Q1/2015 Q1/2014 % Change
1 1 Toyota 416,404 501,798 -17.0
2 2 Honda 238,662 299,180 -20.1
3 3 Nissan 206,401 253,315 -18.5
4 4 Daihatsu 203,590 222,626 -8.6
5 5 Suzuki 188,638 220,176 -14.3
6 6 Mazda 82,059 81,882 .2
7 7 Subaru 58,942 59,910 -1.6
8 8 Mitsubishi 35,692 45,998 -22.4
10 9 Isuzu 22,418 21,936 2.2
11 10 Mercedes-Benz 18,827 17,834 5.6
12 11 Hino 18,124 17,668 2.6
9 12 VW 18,024 23,023 -21.7
13 13 Lexus 12,371 14,854 -16.7
15 14 Mitsubishi Fuso 12,115 13,199 -8.2
14 15 BMW 11,924 14,230 -16.2
16 16 Audi 8,395 8,987 -6.6
18 17 BMW MINI 5,453 4,218 29.3
17 18 Volvo 3,462 4,367 -20.7
19 19 UD Trucks 3,102 3,315 -6.4
21 20 Jeep 1,978 1,868 5.9
Total 1,578,879 1,844,657 -14.4

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

There were no changes in the rank order of the top eight best-selling vehicle marques in Japan during the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. The top three manufacturers – Toyota, Honda and Nissan – all suffered heavy losses of nearly a fifth.

Daihatsu outperformed the general market despite sales slipping 9% while Suzuki’s losses were in line with the broader market. Daihatsu ended the quarter less than 3,000 cars behind Nissan – a year ago the gap was more than 25,000.

Mazda and Subaru both gained market share with Mazda the only of the top eight brands to have increased the number of cars sold this year compared to the first quarter of 2014.

Mitsubishi was the worst performer among the top-20 brands with sales down by more than a fifth. In contrast, Isuzu sales increased by 2.2% for a rank position gain.

Mercedes-Benz was the only new entrant on the top-10 list of best-selling car brands in Japan during the first quarter of 2015. Mercedes-Benz overtook Volkswagen as the strongest imported car marque in Japan.

Truck manufacturer Hino also increased sales to gain a rank position while Volkswagen slipped down to 12th from 9th with sales down by more than a fifth. Lexus and BMW had similarly weak performances while Audi sales were down but less than the broader market.

In contrast, BMW Mini sales increased by nearly a third – helped by a new model launched during 2014. Jeep also increased sales to move into the top 20. Fiat slipped from 20th last year to 24th with sales down by 44%.

Top 10 Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2015 (Q1)

The ten most-popular car models in Japan during the first three months of 2015 according to JADA car sales statistics were:

Q1/2014 Q1/2015 Model Brand Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Mar 2015 Q1/2015 Q1/2014
1 1 Aqua Toyota 19,968 14,285 30,414 64,667 78,004
3 2 Prius Toyota 11,206 13,122 18,605 42,933 71,937
2 3 Fit Honda 11,628 12,013 17,047 40,688 77,093
4 4 Note Nissan 9,951 10,494 13,966 34,411 39,890
NA 5 Demio Mazda 8,864 7,979 9,983 26,826 NA
NA 6 Voxy Toyota 7,328 8,324 9,542 25,194 NA
5 7 Corolla Toyota 6,861 8,270 9,263 24,394 37,857
10 8 Vezel Honda 6,451 6,500 10,640 23,591 19,141
7 9 Vitz Toyota 5,337 6,930 10,498 22,765 27,008
6 10 Serena Nissan 6,552 6,819 8,241 21,612 31,372

Car models exclude the popular minicars (Kei).
NA = car model not amongst the top 10 during Q1/2014.

Ten Most-Popular Car Models in Japan in 2015 (Q1)

The Toyota Aqua easily remained the best-selling car model in Japan during the first three months of 2015 while the Toyota Prius regained second place from the Honda Fit (Jazz in many overseas markets). All three models sold vastly fewer cars in 2015 than during the first quarter of 2014.

The Nissan Note maintained its fourth place with a less dramatic decline in numbers compared to the three market leaders.

The Mazda Demio (Mazda 2 in many overseas markets) re-entered the top-ten list with a strong fifth place. The Toyota Voxy minibus is also a new entrant fro the first quarter, although it was an even stronger 5th for the full 2014 calendar year.

The evergreen Toyota Corolla slipped from 5th to 7th while the Honda Vezel (HRV in some overseas markets) increased unit sales and moved up from 10th to 8th. The Toyota Vitz (Yaris in some overseas markets) slipped from 7th to 9th while Nissan Serena sales were down by a third and rank position slipped from 6th to 10th.

The Nissan X Trail and Subaru Impreza slipped out of the top-ten list of best-selling car models in Japan during the first quarter of 2015.