2017 (Half Year) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

During the first half of 2017, Toyota remained the largest car manufacturer in Japan and the Prius the top-selling model. The market grew by 9%.

Lexus LS 500h at Geneva Auto Salon 2017

The Japanese new vehicle market expanded by 9% to 2,782,542 new registrations during the first six months of 2017. Toyota remained by far the largest carmaker in Japan followed by Honda, Suzuki and Nissan. All of the largest ten vehicle manufacturers in Japan increased sales during the first half of 2017 compared to a year ago. Mercedes-Benz remained the top import car brand in Japan. The Toyota Prius was again the favorite car model of the Japanese.

The Japanese New Vehicle Market in 2017 (Half Year)

The Japanese new vehicle market expanded every month during the first half of 2017. During the first semester, new vehicle registrations, including cars, buses and commercial vehicles, in Japan increased by 9.2% to 2,782,542 units – nearly 240,000 more vehicles than during the first half of 2016.

Best-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2017 (First Half)

The following were the top 20 best-selling vehicle marques in Japan during the first six months of 2017 according to JADA:

2017 Brand 2017 HY 2016 HY Change 2017
Total 2,782,542 2,547,345 9.2
1 Toyota 843,632 757,164 11.4
2 Honda 376,639 370,481 1.7
3 Suzuki 358,148 330,122 8.5
4 Nissan 343,951 279,854 22.9
5 Daihatsu 329,508 306,358 7.6
6 Mazda 111,551 108,061 3.2
7 Subaru 95,999 79,371 20.9
8 Mitsubishi 48,541 45,739 6.1
9 Isuzu 40,957 37,313 9.8
10 Hino 33,507 31,182 7.5
11 Mercedes-Benz 32,699 32,241 1.4
12 VW 25,596 25,079 2.1
13 BMW 25,429 24,639 3.2
14 Lexus 22,021 28,421 -22.5
15 Mitsubishi Fuso 21,353 22,681 -5.9
16 Audi 13,458 14,137 -4.8
17 Mini 12,468 11,810 5.6
18 Volvo 7,873 7,147 10.2
19 UD Trucks 5,141 5,062 1.6
20 Jeep 4,983 4,358 14.3
38 Source: JADA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2017 (First Semester)

Thus far, 2017 has been a good year for most carmakers in Japan. All of the top ten best-selling car brands in Japan increased sales in 2017 and only three of the top 20 brand had weaker sales.

Toyota narrowly outperformed the broader market and thus gained some market share and easily remained the largest carmaker in Japan during the first half of 2017. Toyota sold over 80,000 more cars in Japan during the first six months of 2017 than a year ago.

Honda was again the second best-selling car brand in Japan in the first semester of 2017 despite selling only 6,000 more cars than a year ago. Suzuki increased sales at a more rapid 8.5% but remained third.

Nissan was the most-improved car brand in Japan thus far in 2017 and increased sales by nearly a quarter. Nissan regained 4th place from Daihatsu that slipped to fifth despite increasing sales by a near market average of 7.6%.

Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Isuzu all maintained their rank position from a year ago. Subaru increased sales in Japan during the first half of 2017 by a fifth – the Impreza was the 11th most popular model thus far this year.

Hino reentered the top-10 list at the expense of Mercedes-Benz that slipped to 11th with flat sales. VW and BMW increased sales slightly in Japan but each moved up one rank position at the expense of Lexus that slipped back to 14th from 12th a year ago. During the first half of 2017, Lexus had been the worst performer of the top 20 largest car brands in Japan.

Mitsubishi Fuso and Audi were the only other two brands with weaker sales in Japan during the first half of 2017 but both maintained their relative positions from a year ago.

Mini, Volvo, UD Trucks and Jeep rounded out the top-20 list with stronger sales but the same rank positions in 2017 as during the first semester of 2016.

Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2017 (First Half)

The top ten best-selling car models in Japan during the first half of 2017 according to JADA were as follows:

Brand Model 2017 (HY) 2016 (HY) % Change 2017
1 Toyota Prius 91,246 142,562 -36.0
2 Nissan Note 84,211 51,575 63.3
3 Toyota C-HR 79,303 New
4 Toyota Aqua 64,168 89,409 -29.2
5 Freed Honda 61,057 3,398 236.0
6 Nissan Serena 54,344 35,216 54.3
7 Toyota Sienta 54,005 61,054 -11.5
8 Toyota Vitz 51,617 36,771 40.4
9 Honda Fit 46,171 58,672 -21.3
10 Toyota Voxy 43,448 44,377 -2.1
Source: JADA

Note: Not including mini cars (kei)

Top-Ten Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2017 (Half Year)

The Japanese car buying public traditionally rewards new models and similarly punishes older models severely with sharp swings in purchase volumes. Although only two cars are new on the top-ten list in 2017, only the Prius maintained its position from a year ago.

The Toyota Prius was again Japan’s favorite car model during the first half of 2017. However, Prius sales were down more than a third, or nearly 60,000 cars, from a year ago.

The Nissan Note was the second most-popular car in Japan thus far in 2017 – up from fifth a year ago. Nissan Note sales increased by nearly two-thirds.

The Toytoa C-HR – a crossover vehicle – entered the list at third. The model was launched earlier in the year and not replacing an older model.

The Toyota Aqua was the top-selling car model in Japan during the first half of 2015 but slipped to second last year and only fourth thus far in 2017. Aqua sales were almost a third down from a year ago.

Honda Freed sales more than doubled from a year ago putting the car at fifth in 2017 compared to only 21st last year. Apart from the C-HR, the Freed was the only new entry on the top-ten list.

The Nissan Serena improved from 10th to 6th with sales up more than 50%. The Toyota Sienta slipped from 3rd to 7th with sales down by more than a tenth.

The Toyota Vitz gained one position with sales up by 40%. The Honda Fit, often a top seller in Japan, slipped to 9th with sales down by a fifth.

The Toyota Voxy slipped from 6th to 10th with flat sales.

The two cars slipping out of the list of the top ten most-popular car models in Japan were the Toyota Corolla – down to 13th from 7th – and the Honda Vezel – down to 14th from 8th.

Luxury and Sport Car Brands in Japan in 2017 (First Half)

Luxury and sport carmakers continued to enjoy good sales in Japan during the first half of 2017. The JADA sales figures from a select few brands:

Brand 2017 HY 2016 HY Change 2017
Porsche 3,585 3,438 4.3
Maserati 858 575 49.2
Ferrari 403 338 19.2
Lamborghini 279 198 40.9
Bentley 184 183 0.5
Rolls Royce 122 98 24.5
McLaren 70 72 -2.5
Bugatti 1 2 -50.0
Source: JADA