2016 (First Half) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

Car sales in Japan contracted by 5% during the first half of 2016. Toyota remained the top-selling manufacturer while the Prius was the top model.

Nissan IDS Concept

New motorized vehicle registrations in Japan during the first six months of 2016 in Japan declined by 4.8% to 2,547,345 vehicles. The Japanese market showed signs of recovery during the second quarter of 2016 with market leader Toyota’s sales up 2.2% over the first half of 2016. However, other Japanese manufacturers continued to struggle. The Toyota Prius was again Japan’s favorite car model.

Japanese New Vehicle Market in 2016 (First Half)

New vehicle registrations in Japan from January to June 2016 were down 4.8% to 2,547,345 vehicles (including passenger cars, trucks, heavy commercial vehicles and buses).

The Japanese market was showing some signs of improvement during the second quarter of 2016. During the first quarter of 2016, the market was down 7%. Commercial vehicle manufacturers generally showed positive numbers giving hope that the passenger car market may follow suite.

Passenger car sales – including Kei (mini) cars – during the first half of 2016 were as follows according to JADA figures:

HY 2016HY 2015% Change
2016 (Jan-June)2,132,6552,251,752-5.3

Best-Selling Vehicle Manufacturers in Japan in 2016 (First Half)

New vehicle registration data for Japan released by JADA showed the following as the top-selling vehicle manufacturers during the first six months of 2016:

2016Brand2016 HY2015 HYChange
15Mitsubishi Fuso22,68121,9483.3
19UD Trucks5,0625,753-12.0

Source: JADA. Include Kei cars, cars, commercial vehicles and buses.

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2016 (First Half)

There were no changes in the composition and rank order of the top ten best-selling carmakers in Japan during the first half of 2016.

Toyota, Japan’s dominant vehicle manufacturer, regained market share during the first half of 2016. Toyota increased sales by 2.2% over the first six months of 2016 despite a 3% contraction during the first quarter of the year.

Isuzu was the only other manufacturer on the top-ten list of best-selling vehicle manufacturers in Japan to have shown positive growth during the first half of the year. Suzuki and Mercedes-Benz had weaker sales but outperformed the broader market. Nissan and Mitsubishi sales were down over 14% while Mazda sales contracted by more than a fifth.

Mercedes-Benz sales were marginally down but the German luxury car manufacturer remained the favorite foreign brand for Japanese car buyers. Mercedes-Benz was the only imported car brand on the top-ten list of Japan’s best-selling car marques.

The following ten marques generally performed better but here the volumes are so small compared to the top five brands that the influence on overall numbers are rather limited.

Lexus was the best performing brand with sales up more than a quarter. Lexus moved up two rank positions and passed both VW and BMW. Volkswagen sales were down by 15% – only Mazda had a weaker performance. Audi similarly struggled with sales down by 10%.

BMW sales improved by nearly 9% to end only around 400 cars behind Volkswagen, which was for long the leading car importer in Japan. Mini sales similarly improved strongly. Jeep sales were up by a quarter but the sales volume remained very low.

Top Ten Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2016 (First Half)

The following were the ten top-selling car models in Japan during the first six months of 2016 according to car sales data released by JADA:

RankBrandModel2016 (HY)% Change

Note: exclude Kei (mini) cars

As usual, the top-ten list of best-selling car models in Japan is also full of changes during the first six months of 2016. Japanese car buyers are generally keen to purchase new models and cars generally sell badly towards the end of a model life.

The fourth generation Toyota Prius recovered top position from the smaller Toyota Aqua. Prius sales almost doubled from a year ago while Aqua sales were down by a quarter.

The Toyota Sienta, a subcompact minivan, is a new entrant on the top-ten list. It was not even on the top-30 list during the first half of 2016. The current model was launched mid-2015 and it has been a constant best seller. In contrast to the Prius and Aqua, the Sienta is also available in Japan as a non-hybrid car.

The Honda Fit and Nissan Note both had weaker sales and both slipped one rank position due to the meteoric rise of the Sienta.

Toyota Voxy, another minibus, sales were flat and it the only model among the ten best-selling car models in Japan to have maintained the same sales position in 2016 as a year ago.

Toyota’s Corolla slipped two positions with sales down by a fifth. The eleventh generation of the evergreen Corolla was launched in Japan in 2012.

The Honda Vezel improved one rank position with slightly stronger sales at the expense of the Toyota Vitz that slipped to ninth with sales down by 8%.
The Nissan Serena entered the top-ten list from eleventh a year ago. The Mazda Demio slipped from 7th to 12th and the Toyota Esquire from 10th to 18th.

Sports and Exotic Car Sales in Japan in 2016

The sales figures for a few exotic and sport car brands in Japan during the first six months of 2016 according to JADA figures:

Brand2016 HY2015 HYChange
Rolls Royce987628.9

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.