2020 (Q3) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands, Models, and Kei Minicars

2020 (Q1-Q3) — Toyota was the best-selling car brand in Japan, the Yaris the top-selling model, and Honda N-Box the favorite minicar.

2020 (Q1-Q3) -- Toyota was the best-selling car brand in Japan, the Yaris the top-selling model.
Toyota Yaris GR © Toyota

January to September 2020: New passenger vehicle registrations in Japan contracted by 19%. Toyota remained the top-selling vehicle brand in Japan and gained market share. Suzuki was the second best-selling car brand in Japan thus far in 2020 ahead of Honda and Daihatsu. The Toyota Yaris was the best-selling car model while the Honda N-Box remained Japan’s favorite minicar.

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

Japanese New Vehicle Market in 2020 (Q1-Q3)

New vehicle registrations in Japan during the first nine months of 2020 contracted by 18.1% to 3,400,266 vehicles including minicars, cars, commercial vehicles, and buses — almost 750,000 fewer than during the same period in 2019.

VehiclesQ1-Q3 2020Q1-Q3 2019% Change
Total Market:3,400,2664,149,685-18.1
Cars1,827,6092,256,635-19.0
Minicars (Kei)1,269,8651,523,114-16.6
Commercial295,022358,900-17.8
Buses7,77011,036-29.6

Sources: Jada / Zenkeijikyo

Best-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2020 (Q3)

New vehicle registrations including data for cars, commercial vehicles, and buses but not minicars for the period January to September 2020 released by JADA showed the following as the top 20 best-selling vehicle brands in Japan:

BrandQ1-Q3/2020Q1-3/2019% Change 19/20
Total Market3,400,2664,149,685-18.1
1Toyota1,057,7081,215,999-13.0
2Suzuki469,264543,924-13.7
3Honda468,689599,871-21.9
4Daihatsu428,802521,510-17.8
5Nissan356,960467,263-23.6
6Mazda137,327163,070-15.8
7Subaru77,485107,615-28.0
8Mitsubishi54,02187,585-38.3
9Isuzu52,10367,779-23.1
10Hino45,93956,475-18.7
11Mercedes Benz40,67549,127-17.2
12Lexus34,50049,004-29.6
13Volkswagen28,43836,804-22.7
14Mitsubishi Fuso28,03332,403-13.5
15BMW25,01535,992-21.4
16Audi15,53517,847-13.0
17BMW Mini14,22919,005-25.1
18Volvo11,64114,071-17.3
19Jeep9,53610,436-8.6
20Peugeot6,6228,292-20.1
Source: JADA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2020 (Q1-3)

All top-20 best-selling car marques in Japan thus far in 2020 had weaker volume sales than during the first nine months of 2019. Toyota was the best-performing top-ten brand and thus gained market share despite sales falling by 13%. Toyota remained by far the largest carmaker in Japan selling more vehicles than Suzuki and Honda combined.

Suzuki similarly outperformed the broader market to become Japan’s second best-selling carmaker by 575 cars during the first three quarters of 2020. Honda slipped to third with sales down by more than a fifth.

Of the other top-ten brands in Japan, Daihatsu and Mazda slightly outperformed the rest of the market while all other brands had weak sales. Mitsubishi was the worst performing top-ten brand in Japan thus far in 2020.

Mercedes-Benz was again the largest foreign car brand in Japan during the first three-quarters of 2020. Mercedes-Benz was also the leading luxury car brand. Although Lexus maintained its rank position, sales were down by almost a third.

Jeep was the best-performing top-20 brand in Japan but its total sales were less than one percentage point of Toyota’s deliveries.

Best-Selling Car Models in Japan in 2020 (Q2-Q3)

The best-selling car models in Japan (excluding minicars) during the six months April to September 2020 were:

ManufacturerModelQ2-Q3/2020% Change 19/20Q2-Q3/2019
1ToyotaYaris / [Vitz]79,400[81.6][43,712]
2ToyotaRaize61,035New
3ToyotaCorolla55,85415.048,572
4HondaFit50,52116.743,287
5ToyotaAlphard44,31132.333,489
6ToyotaRumi34,276-30.349,206
7HondaFreed32,393-25.543,468
8ToyotaHarrier31,53362.919,353
9NissanNote31,085-47.759,474
10NissanSerena30,135-34.545,928
11ToyotaVoxy29,020-36.445,615
12ToyotaPrius27,918-59.166,628
13ToyotaSienta27,736-50.155,602
14ToyotaAqua24,168-52.851,168
Source: JADA

Top-Ten Car Models in Japan

As usual in Japan, newly launched cars are bought in high numbers while older cars fade until updated. The top-ten list of best-selling cars in Japan during the second and third quarters of 2020 includes four new models and not a single car was in the same sales rank position as a year ago.

The Toyota Yaris is Japan’s new favorite car model thus far in 2020. The new Yaris sold well since its launch earlier in 2020 when Toyota decided to drop the previous Vitz nameplate in favor of the Yaris name that has been used on most international markets for years. The Vitz was the ninth best-selling car model a year ago.

The Toyota Raize — a new small SUV / Crossover — is the new second best-selling car model in Japan while the evergreen Toyota Corolla moved into third place from sixth to give Toyota a clean sweep of the top three.

The new Honda Fit launched earlier this year propelled Honda’s top-selling car model back into the top 10 from eleventh a year ago.

The Toyota Alphard and Toyota Harrier are two further new entries on the top-ten list.

Last year’s number two, the Nissan Note slipped to ninth with sales almost halved. The three top-selling Toyotas from a year ago saw sales down by more than half and dropped out of the top-ten: Prius (first a year ago), Sienta (third), and Aqua (fourth).

Best-Selling Kei Minicars in Japan in 2020 (Q1-Q3)

The ten top-selling minicars in Japan during the first nine months of 2020 were:

BrandModelQ1-3/2020Q1-3/2019% Change 19/20
1HondaN-BOX150,820202,048-25.4
2SuzukiSpacia104,832128,866-18.7
3DaihatsuTanto96,408135,044-28.6
4DaihatsuMove74,948101,478-26.1
5NissanDayz72,730125,863-42.2
6SuzukiHustler60,38543,90937.5
7DaihatsuMira55,48678,174-29.0
8HondaN-WGN55,08272.0
9SuzukiWagon R51,12773,129-30.1
10NissanRoox48,745New
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.

The Honda N-Box easily maintained its position as the top-selling minicar model in Japan in 2020.
Honda N-Box © Honda

The Honda N-Box easily maintained its position as the top-selling minicar model in Japan in 2020. It easily outsold the Toyota Yaris too.

The N-Box was the only model of the top-ten best-selling minicars in Japan thus far in 2020 to have maintained the same position as a year ago. The Spacia and Tanto swapped positions, as did the Move and Dayz. The Hona N-WGN re-entered the top-ten from 11th a year ago while the Nissan Roox is a new model launched earlier this year.