2020 (Q1) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands, Models, and Minicars

January to March 2020: Toyota gained market share in a weak market to remain Japan’s largest carmaker. The Corolla was the top-selling model car and the Honda N-Box the favorite minicar (kei).

Toyota Corolla was the top-selling car model in japan during the first quarter of 2020.

During the first quarter of 2020, Toyota remained by far the largest vehicle manufacturer in Japan while Suzuki narrowly took second place ahead of Honda. The Toyota Corolla is back in fashion in Japan and was the best-selling car model thus far in 2020. The Honda N-Box was again Japan’s favorite minicar (kei).

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

Japanese New Vehicle Market in 2020 (Q1)

New motorized vehicle registrations in Japan, including cars, trucks (heavy commercial vehicles), and buses, contracted by 10.1% to 1,371,726 vehicles during the first three months of 2020. This was 157,000 vehicles fewer than during the first quarter of 2019.

The Japanese new car market has been weaker since the increase in sales tax in October 2019. The market was also affected by the Coronavirus, especially as supply chains were interrupted rather than compulsory closures of dealerships in Japan during this period.

Best-Selling Vehicle Manufacturers in Japan in 2020 (Q1)

The top-selling vehicle manufacturers in Japan, including cars, trucks, and buses, according to Jada were as follows during the first quarter or 2020:

MarqueQ1/2020Q1/2019% Change 19/20
Total1,371,7261,528,213-10.2
1Toyota407,171425,694-4.4
2Suzuki187,371211,105-11.2
3Honda187,113220,495-15.1
4Daihatsu173,482192,670-10.0
5Nissan153,131186,295-17.8
6Mazda63,54364,757-1.9
7Subaru37,20838,482-3.3
8Mitsubishi26,96135,504-24.1
9Isuzu20,22323,501-13.9
10Hino17,63320,620-14.5
11Mercedes Benz15,40117,385-11.4
12Lexus14,76619,130-22.8
13VW12,02413,278-9.4
14Mitusbishi Fuso11,39810,7236.3
15BMW9,20311,786-21.9
16Audi5,6544,68520.7
17BMW Mini4,7706,328-24.6
18Volvo4,6914,6461.0
19Jeep3,3082,48233.3
20Peugeot2,6582,949-9.9
21UD Trucks2,1762,366-8.0
22Porsche2,0121,51033.2
23Renault1,8752,317-19.1
24Fiat1,4941,640-8.9
25Land Rover1,2401,453-14.7
Source: Jada

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2020 (Q1)

The 13 largest carmakers in Japan all had weaker sales during the first three months of 2020. Toyota gained market share with sales down only 4.4% and sold more cars than the next two largest carmakers combined. Six of the top ten best-selling cars in Japan thus far in 2020 were Toyota models.

Suzuki gained second place from Honda with only 258 sales more. Both lost market share to Toyota and fourth-placed Daihatsu.

There were no other rank order changes amongst the ten largest carmakers in Japan. Nissan sales were weak while Mazda and Subaru were the best performers among the top brands. Mitsubishi was the worst top brand with sales down by nearly a quarter.

Mercedes-Benz remained the top imported car brand in Japan during the first quarter of 2020. Mercedes again moved ahead of Lexus that had sales down by more than a fifth.

Mini was the worst performer of the top 25 brands in Japan thus far this year with BMW not selling much better.

Jeep and Porsche were the best performing car brands in Japan with sales up by a third during the first quarter of 2020. Audi, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Volvo were the only other top 25 brands with higher sales but the actual volumes were very low for these brands.

Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2020 (Q1)

The ten best-selling car models in Japan during the period January to March 2020 were as follows.

BrandModelJan 2019Feb 2019March 2019Q1/2020Q1/2019
1ToyotaCorolla8,4809,89816,32734,70524,753
2ToyotaRaize10,2209,97912,00932,208NA
3NissanNote7,5299,91310,99928,44141,005
4ToyotaSienta6,8318,26610,45625,55328,366
5HondaFit1,7358,22114,84524,80123,110
6NissanSerena6,7818,6479,13024,55833,463
7ToyotaPrius6,6597,5189,71723,89436,120
8HondaFreed6,7597,3209,52823,60724,796
9ToyotaRoomy6,1937,6829,70023,57522,335
10ToyotaAqua6,6228,4338,48823,54336,024
Source: JADA

Note: Exclude minicars – see below

Although there was only one new model amongst the top ten best-selling cars in Japan this year, none of the ten was in the same sales rank position as a year ago.

The evergreen Toyota Corolla regained the title of Japan’s favorite car model. It was the top-selling car model during the first three months of 2020.

The Toyota Raize was second and the only new entrant on the top-ten list of Japan’s best-selling car models in 2020. This smallish crossover SUV was launched at the end of 2019. (The name, according to Wikipedia, was coined from RISE and RAISE in English. It expresses that it is an active car that excites every day.)

The Nissan Note, the top-seller for the last three years, slipped back to third. The Toyota Sienta improved one position.

The Honda Fit improved from ninth to fifth. The new model was launched in February and made up for weak January sales by being the second most popular car in Japan in the important March 2020 sales month.

The Nissan Serena slipped on place while the Toyota Prius slipped from second to seventh. The Toyota Aqua similarly slipped from third to tenth. Both models are not the freshest anymore plus other models are increasingly available as hybrids too.

The Honda Freed slipped on sales rank and the Toyota Roomy improved one.

The Toyota Voxy slipped out of the top ten from sixth to eleventh.

A model to watch is the Toyota Yaris. With the launch of the new model in February 2020, Toyota dropped the name Vitz and started selling this popular model in Japan also using the name Yaris as in international markets. It was the third most-popular car model in Japan in March 2020.

Best-Selling Minicars in Japan in 2020 (Q1)

The top-selling minicars (kei) in Japan during the first three months of 2020 were as follows:

ManufacturerCommon nameQ1/2020Q1/2019% Change
1HondaN-BOX60,20866,001-8.2
2DaihatsuTanto44,19846,811-5.6
3SuzukiSpacia42,43349,023-13.4
4NissanDays41,37343,931-5.8
5DaihatsuMove34,55038,710-10.7
6HondaN-WGN24,76415,69957.7
7SuzukiAlto22,40622,2770.6
8Daihatsumirror22,23231,471-29.4
9SuzukiHustler21,71516,72429.8
10SuzukiWagon R18,99330,457-37.6
Source: Zenkeijikyo

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 漏 Honda

As is often the case in Japan, the top-selling minicars sold in vastly larger numbers than the standard car models. The Honda N-Box easily remained Japan’s favorite minicar model despite weaker sales. The Daihatsu Tanto gained second place from the Suzuki Spacia. Most Kei cars sold in lower numbers too but the Honda N-WGN increase sales by nearly 60% to move from tenth to sixth.

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.