2020 (Full Year) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands and Market Analysis

In 2020, Toyota remained by far the best-selling car brand in Japan. Market analysis showed a contraction of 11.5% in vehicle sales.

In 2020, Toyota remained by far the best-selling car brand in Japan. Market analysis showed a contraction of 11.5% in vehicle sales.
漏 Toyota

In full-year 2020, Toyota maintained its traditional position as Japan’s largest carmaker and best-selling car brand. Suzuki gained second place from Honda. The Japanese new passenger vehicle market contracted by 12% while the total motorized vehicle market was 11.5% smaller than in 2019. Mercedes-Benz was again the best-selling foreign car brand in Japan in 2020.

Latest Japan Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Brands, Models, Minicars; Data for 2022 – 2009.

Japan New Vehicle Market Analysis — 2020 (Full Year)

New motorized vehicle registrations in Japan in 2020 (January to December) decreased by 11.5% to 4,598,615 vehicles. The number includes the following major vehicle categories:

Cars — 2,478,832 (-12.2%), Mini Cars — 1,331,149 (-10%), Commercial Vehicles — 392,361 (-12.7%), Mini Commercial Vehicles — 386,939 (-10.3%), and buses — 9,334 (-31.3%).

The contraction in the Japanese new car market in 2020 was generally less severe than in many other advanced economies where the coronavirus led to complete shutdowns in the economies and several months with exceptionally low sales. However, the Japanese new vehicle market was at its lowest volume since 2011 (tsunami) and only the second year in the last decade with total sales below 5 million vehicles.

Although the Japanese new car market showed some growth during the last months of 2020, this was largely due to very low car sales during the final quarter of 2019 following a sales tax increase in October 2019.

Annual Car Sales Volume in Japan (2008 to 2020)

New vehicle registrations in Japan have been as follows in recent years:

YearVehicle Sales% Change
Source: JADA

Best-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2020 (Full Year)

The top-selling vehicle manufacturers in Japan during the full calendar year 2020 were as follows according to JADA statistics:

BrandSales 2020Sales 2019% 19/20
11Mercedes Benz57,04166,553-14.3
13Mitsubishi Fuso38,10341,272-7.7
21UD Trucks9,71310,388-6.5
Source: JADA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2020 (Full Year)

Toyota maintained its customary top position as Japan’s largest carmaker by far in 2020. Toyota gained market share with sales down 6% — only about half the broader market contraction. However, it was the first time since 2015 that Toyota sold fewer than 1.5 million vehicles in Japan in a single year. Japan’s three favorite car models in 2020 were all produced by Toyota.

The only rank-order change amongst the ten largest brands in Japan in 2020 was Suzuki gaining second place from Honda. Suzuki cars sold just better than the market average while Honda underperformed. The minicar Honda N-Box was the top-selling vehicle in Japan in 2020.

Daihatsu gained market share but the rest of the twelve largest vehicle brands in Japan all underperformed in 2020. Mitsubishi was the worst-performing brand in Japan with sales down by nearly a third.

Mercedes-Benz remained the largest foreign car brand in Japan and comfortably outsold Lexus that had sales down by a fifth. Volkswagen gained a place at the expense of BMW but heavy commercial vehicle producer Mitsubishi Fuso moved ahead of both.

Jeep at 19th was the largest car brand to have increased sales in Japan in 2020. Peugeot and Porsche had similar small gains while Citroen entered the top 25 list at the expense of Land Rover with sales up by a fifth. However, Citroen sales were only 0.35% of Toyota sales in Japan.

Lower down the ranks, Ferrari increased sales in Japan in 2020 by a quarter to 1,085 cars and Bugatti doubled sales to two.

Latest Japan Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Brands, Models, Minicars; Data for 2022 – 2009.

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.