2018 (Full Year) Japan: Best-Selling Vehicle Manufacturers and Car Brands

In 2018, Toyota was again the largest vehicle manufacturer in Japan and the top-selling car brand, followed by Honda and Suzuki.

Toyota Concept i-Ride

Toyota remained Japan’s leading carmaker in 2018 by selling more than double the number of vehicles by second-place Honda or third-placed Suzuki combined. The Japanese new vehicle market was flat with nearly 5.3 million vehicles sold in 2018. Lexus and Mitsubishi were the most improved top brands while Subaru had the weakest performance in Japan in 2018. The Nissan Note was the most popular car model in Japan in 2018.

Japanese New Vehicle Market in 2018 (Full Year)

In 2018, new vehicle registrations in Japan increased by 0.7% to 5,272,067 vehicles including passenger cars, commercial heavy vehicles and buses.

The Japanese new vehicle market exceeded 5 million vehicles for the second consecutive year and was the highest since the market peaked at 5,562,888 vehicles in 2014.

Japan was hit by several natural disasters in 2018 that influenced the market heavily. Floods often boost the market, as vehicles are replaced but may also negatively affect production and vehicle availability depending on the location of factories and production lines.

Annual Vehicle Sales in Japan

Annual vehicle sales in Japan in recent years were as follows:

YearVehicle Sales% Change
20185,272,0670.7
20175,234,1665.3
20164,970,260-1.5
20155,046,511-9.3
20145,562,8883.5
20135,375,5130.1
20125,369,72127.5
20114,210,220-15.1
20104,956,1367.5
20094,609,255-9.3
20085,082,235
Source: JADA

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in Japan in 2018 (Full Year)

New vehicle registrations, including passenger cars, commercial vehicles and buses, by brand in Japan in 2018 were as follows according to JADA:

BrandSales 2018% 17/18Sales 2017Sales 2016
Total 5,272,0670.75,234,1664,970,258
1Toyota1,508,647-4.91,587,0621,528,173
2Honda747,2263.1724,834707,044
3Suzuki714,5947.3665,871622,866
4Daihatsu646,7812.5630,856586,972
5Nissan616,0334.2591,000534,415
6Mazda220,7435.3209,689201,404
7Subaru148,453-16.0176,737155,779
8Mitsubishi104,59114.291,62185,720
9Isuzu76,747-5.280,98481,128
10Hino70,8114.567,77863,310
11Mercedes-Benz67,554-1.068,22167,386
12Lexus55,09620.845,60552,150
13Volkswagen51,9616.049,04047,234
14BMW50,982-2.952,52750,571
15Mitsubishi Fuso42,348-4.044,13445,210
16Audi26,473-6.628,33628,502
17Mini25,9842.225,42724,548
18Volvo17,80510.516,12014,914
19Jeep11,43813.210,1029,392
20UD Trucks9,974-8.110,85810,529
21Peugeot9,88119.98,2427,403
22Renault7,2531.97,1215,304
23Porsche7,1663.56,9236,887
24Fiat6,014-7.86,5236,717
25Land Rover3,9729.83,6193,259
Source: JADA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2018 (Full Year)

Toyota was again the leading car brand in Japan in 2018 but sales were down 5%. Due to Toyota’s market share of 28% this weak performance was a severe drag on the overall market.

Nonetheless, Toyota still sold more vehicles in Japan in 2018 than Honda and Suzuki combined. Both Honda and Suzuki gained market share with Suzuki increasing sales by around 7% for the second consecutive year.

Daihatsu, Nissan and Mazda all increased sales in Japan in 2018. Subaru sales were down 16% – the worst performer of the top 25 car brands in Japan in 2018. In contrast, Mitsubishi sales were up 14% – the best performance of the top ten brands. Isuzu sales were weaker.

Hino sales increased to retake the tenth place in Japan in 2018 at the expense of Mercedes-Benz that dropped to 11th with slightly weaker sales. Mercedes-Benz remained the top foreign car brand in Japan in 2018.

Lexus was the most-improved car brand in Japan in 2018 with sales up by a fifth and two rank positions.

Volkswagen sales in Japan increased in 2018 but VW is still far from reclaiming the title of top car importer in Japan that it lost to Mercedes-Benz in 2015. BMW slipped two rank position with slightly lower sales and thus fell behind Lexus and VW.

Peugeot, Jeep, Volvo and Land Rover performed well in Japan in 2018 but the actual sales numbers are very low given the size of the Japanese new car market.

Exotic and Sport Car Sales in Japan in 2018

A few exotic and sport car sales in Japan in 2018:

BrandSales 2018% 17/18Sales 2017Sales 2016
Bugatti7250.025
McLaren22235.4164179
Rolls Royce2302.2225223
Aston Martin318-0.9321186
Bentley4374.5418434
Lamborghini54314.3475382
Ferrari767-1.0775678
Maserati1,453-20.31,8241,323
Source: JADA

The Nissan Note was the top-selling car model in Japan in 2018 – the first time in a decade that another brand than Toyota produced Japan’s favorite car model.