2020 (Half Year) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands, Models, and Kei Minicars

First semester 2020: Toyota was the leading car brand in Japan, the Toyota Raize the best-selling car model, and the Honda N-Box the favorite kei minicar.

Subaru Viziv Concept. First semester 2020: Toyota was the leading car brand in Japan, the Toyota Raize the best-selling car model, and the Honda N-Box the favorite kei minicar.

The Japanese new car market contracted by 20% during the first half of 2020 with total vehicle sales down to 2.2 million vehicles. Toyota easily remained the largest carmaker in Japan and gained market share despite weaker sales. The new Toyota Raize was the top-selling car model in Japan thus far in 2020 with seven of the top-ten models made by Toyota. The Honda N-Box was again the top-selling kei minicar model in Japan during the first semester of 2020.

Japan Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Q1; 2022 — Brands, Models, Minicars; 2021 — Brands, Models, Minicars; 2020 — Brands, Models, Minicars; 2019 — Brands, Models, Minicars

New Vehicle Market in Japan in 2020 (First Half)

Total new vehicle registrations in Japan during the first half of 2020 contracted by 19.8% to 2,207,775 vehicles — over half a million vehicles fewer than during the first six months of 2019. This number includes all standard passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and buses but excludes Kei minicars.

Best-Selling Vehicle Brands in Japan in 2020 (First Semester)

New vehicle registration data for Japan released by JADA for the period January to June 2020 showed the following as the top 20 brands:

Brand2020 HY2019 HY% Change 19/20
Total2,207,7752,753,419-19.8
1Toyota685,090799,552-14.3
2Honda313,213403,364-22.3
3Suzuki293,427378,040-22.4
4Daihatsu272,131345,176-21.2
5Nissan236,965312,742-24.2
6Mazda89,348103,810-13.9
7Subaru53,16869,330-23.3
8Mitsubishi37,76758,253-35.2
9Isuzu33,45441,543-19.5
10Hino30,14835,346-14.7
11Lexus25,22631,540-20.0
12Mercedes Benz24,99431,748-21.3
13Mitsubishi Fuso18,90420,518-7.9
14VW17,98824,088-25.3
15BMW15,82023,460-19.1
16Audi9,28511,314-17.9
17Mini8,47312,579-32.6
18Volvo7,6819,438-18.6
19Jeep5,7716,149-6.1
20Peugeot4,3245,410-20.1
Source: JADA

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

The contraction in car sales in Japan during the first half of 2020 was shared by all manufacturers with all top 20 brands selling fewer cars than a year ago. Jeep and truck maker Mitsubishi Fuso were the only top brands with sales down by less than ten percent.

There were no changes in the rank order of the top ten biggest car brands in Japan during the first semester of 2020. Toyota easily maintained its leading position in Japan and gained market share over its four largest competitors. Of the top ten brands only Mazda performed better than Toyota.

Honda, Suzuki, and Daihatsu had sales down by more than a fifth while Nissan and Subaru lost nearly a quarter in sales. Mitsubishi sales were down by more than a third — the worst performance of the top 20 car brands in Japan this year.

Commercial vehicle producers Isuzu and Hino, like Mitsubishi Fuso, outperformed the broader market.

Lexus regained 11th place from Mercedes-Benz — the difference of around 200 cars was similar to Mercedes-Benz’s advantage during the first half of last year. Mitsubishi Fuso leapfrogged both Volkswagen and BMW. Audi and Mini swapped places.

Top-Ten Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2020 (First Half)

Japan’s ten favorite car models during the first half of 2020 were as follows:

BrandModel2020 (HY)2019 (HY)% Change 19/20
1ToyotaRaize58,492New
2ToyotaCorolla57,23547,83619.6
3HondaFit50,02945,08911.0
4ToyotaYaris48,129New
5NissanNote41,70768,543-39.2
6ToyotaSienta40,19450,926-21.1
7HondaFreed38,84445,548-14.7
8ToyotaRumi37,62245,544-17.4
9ToyotaPrius36,63070,277-47.9
10ToyotaAlphard36,59735,2653.8
Source: JADA

Japan’s Ten Favorite Car Models in 2020 (Half Year)

The best-selling car in Japan thus far in 2020 is the Toyota Raize -- a new compact SUV model launched late last year.
Toyota Raize © Toyota

The top-ten best-selling car models in Japan experienced quite a shakeup during the first six months of 2020 with no model in the same rank position as a year ago. As usual, the Japanese car buyers loved the new and punished the old without mercy.

The best-selling car in Japan thus far in 2020 is the Toyota Raize — a new compact SUV model launched late last year. The evergreen Toyota Corolla was in second place from sixth a year ago with sales up by 20%.

The new Honda Fit launched earlier this year was well received and allowed the Fit to reenter the top ten (from 11th) as the third-most-popular car model in Japan thus far in 2020. Sales were up 11%.

Fourth place also went to a new model: the Toyota Yaris. The model was previously sold as the Vitz but Toyota decided to use the international plate name when the new model was introduced in Japan in February 2020. The Vitz was 10th a year ago with total sales of 45,279 cars.

It was lower sales for the mostly aging models composing the rest of the top-ten list. The Nissan Note slipped from second a year ago with sales down 40%. The Toyota Sienta slipped one position with sales down 15%.

The Honda Freed and Toyota Rumi gained one rank position each despite weaker sales. The Toyota Prius — the top-selling car in Japan during the first semester of 2020 — slipped to 9th with sales nearly halved. The Toyota Aqua similarly had sales down by 43% to slip from 3rd to 12th.

The Toyota Alphard rounded out the list with seven of the top-ten best-selling car models thus far in 2020 built by Toyota.

Best-Selling Kei Mini Cars in Japan in 2020 (Half Year)

The ten favorite kei minicars in Japan during the first six months of 2020 were as follows:

BrandModel2020 (HY)2019 (HY)% Change 19/20
Total Kei Sales808,0811,018,072-20.6
1HondaN-BOX101,454131,233-22.7
2SuzukiSpacia65,32389,750-27.2
3DaihatsuTant62,25381,828-23.9
4NissanDays55,23979,789-30.8
5DaihatsuMove48,28368,833-29.9
6DaihatsuMira37,89455,439-31.6
7SuzukiHustler37,41329,71225.9
8HondaN-WGN34,08322,68750.2
9SuzukiWagon R32,07951,377-37.6
10SuzukiAlto30,57038,139-19.8
Source: Zenkeijkyo

Mini cars (kei-jidousya) in Japan are vehicles defined by amongst others being shorter than 3.4 m with a maximum height of 2 m and a maximum width of 1.48 m. The engine capacity is restricted to 0.66 l measured by the Japanese standard.

Honda N-Box © Honda

Kei minicar sales in Japan contracted by a fifth during the first half of 2020 but the top-selling models were still selling in higher numbers than regular passenger cars.

The Honda N-Box easily maintained its position as the top-selling minicar model in Japan and easily outsold the Toyota Raize too. Despite all selling weaker than a year ago, there were no changes to the rank order of the six most popular minicars in Japan during the first half of 2020.

The Suzuki Hustler and Honda N-WGN increased sales and gained sales ranks at the expense of the Suzuki Wagon R and Alto.