Japan May 2016: Nissan (-26%) and Mitsubishi (-51%) sink

Toyota Passo Moda Japan May 2016. Picture courtesy okinawa.o-cross.netThe new generation Toyota Passo (Moda variant pictured) leaps to 5th place in May. 

* See the Top 50 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 30 kei cars by clicking on the title *

This Japan update was created with the collaboration of Stephen Bloom.

The Japanese market continues to feel the effects of the fuel economy testing scandal that erupted at Mitsubishi earlier this year. Facing increased government scrutiny, Suzuki is the latest to reveal that improper methods were used to test the fuel economy of many of its vehicles. Retesting has actually shown that the fuel economy of affected Suzuki models is roughly the same or even better than published figures, but the continuing investigation has already damaged the company’s reputation and stock. As both Suzuki and Mitsubishi are among Japan’s leading manufacturers of kei minicars, that segment is particularly hit this month with sales down 14% to 107,834 units. In contrast, regular vehicles are up an encouraging 6.6% to 223.753 registrations with foreign brands up 6.8% to 21.488, but this isn’t enough to balance the losses from the fuel testing scandals. Overall sales are down 1.2% from last year to 331.587 units, with the year-to-date total down 4.8% to 2.126.438 deliveries.

Suzuki Ignis Japan May 2016. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThe new Ignis enables Suzuki to limits its fall to -7% in the midst of a fuel testing scandal. 

Toyota posts a splendid double-digit increase at 11% to take off to 31.8% share vs. 29.1% so far in 2016, while in its wake Honda is up 4% to 14.7% share and Suzuki’s overall sales are down 7% to 13.9% share in the wake of its troubles as its losses in the kei market (-15%) were somewhat mitigated by strong sales of the new Ignis and other non-kei models (+82%). Suzuki still distances Daihatsu, itself up 6% to 11.7%. Mazda is down 33% compared to last May when the latest Roadster further added to the boost from the new CX-3 and Demio. Mitsubishi (-51%) and Nissan (-26%) are down huge percentages as production and sales of their most popular kei models remains halted.

Smart Forfour Japan May 2016. Picture courtesy setagaya.co.jpThe new lineup has Smart increase its sales 15-fold in May in Japan.

Mercedes remains the most popular foreign manufacturers, evolving like the market at +8% to 4.649 units and leaping to 9th place overall – it was #12 in April. Volkswagen finally returns to growth after 7 consecutive months of decline triggered by its emissions scandal – it lost 48% last October. VW gains 10% in May to 4.-15 sales and it’s Audi that now suffers at -16%. Notice also Mini up 16%, Volvo up 24%, Jeep up 48%, Smart up 15-fold thanks to the new Fortwo and Forfour, Jaguar up 232% and DS up 83%.

Toyota Passo Moda Japan May 2016The new Toyota Passo is available in two bodies: the Passo and retro-looking Passo “Moda” 

Toyota continues to dominate the models chart this month starting with the Toyota Prius as Japan’s best-selling model for a sixth consecutive time, up 140% to 21.527 units, followed by the Aqua again at #2 and the Sienta at #3. The new third generation Passo leaps five places on April to #5 with sales up 129% to 6.784 units in its first full month on the market. After being available in Europe since 2013, Toyota finally released in April a hybrid version of the Auris in its home market boosting sales 177% and placing the nameplate in the Top 30 for the first time since February 2010. The Auris, sold elsewhere as the Corolla hatchback and Scion iM, remains a niche model at home as it falls into a different class than the smaller JDM Corolla.

Mitsubishi ek Japan May 2016. Picture courtesy carsensor.netMitsubishi plunges 51% as eK sales (pictured) remain halted. 

Things remain shaky over on the kei charts as production and sales of the Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi eK have stopped in the wake of the testing scandal. The Nissan Dayz remains the third best-selling kei model for the year, however that could quickly change if production doesn’t resume soon. Last year’s champion, Honda N-BOX, remains at the top of the chart for a third consecutive month with sales up 10% to 11.487 units. In a close race, the Daihatsu Tanto is up 30% and 11.283 units to place at #2 and even narrowly outselling the Toyota Aqua this month. With the exception of the Jimny, all other Suzuki models poste double digit decreases. The Honda N-WGN is up 20% and climbs one place to #6. Several other models show more modest increases as the kei market shows some signs of stabilization after 2014’s change to the vehicle taxes.

Previous month: Japan April 2016: Mitsubishi scandal reshapes local auto industry

One year ago: Japan May 2015: Honda Shuttle and Mazda Roadster land

Full May 2016 Top 50 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 30 kei cars below.

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Japan April 2016: Mitsubishi scandal reshapes local auto industry

Mitsubishi logoThe Mitsubishi fuel economy scandal is already reshaping the Japanese and worldwide auto industry. 

* See the Top 30 best-selling cars, Top 30 kei car & Top 55 brands by clicking on the title *

This post was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

The Japanese market begins to show some signs of recovery just in time for the start of a new fiscal year. April’s monthly sales are up 1.6% from last year to 324.717 units, meaning the year-to-date total is now down 5.5% to 1.794.851 deliveries. Regular vehicles are up 7.2% to 212.683 registrations and imports improve 6% to 16.071. The kei car segment that was hit this time last year with a tax increase was anticipated to contribute significantly to this month’s growth, but just the opposite was true on account of a scandal that is reshaping the Japanese auto industry. In the wake of last year’s scandal at Volkswagen, Mitsubishi admitted last month to manipulating fuel economy test data for 25 years which led to a massive devaluation of the company and a $2 billion buyout by Nissan.

Ironically, it was Nissan that discovered the discrepancies earlier this year between Mitsubishi’s and actual fuel consumption data of four kei models produced by the two company’s joint venture, NMKV. The scandal resulted in a stop-sale of the affected models and quickly escalated as news broke of the company submitting manipulated data since 1991 and culminated with Nissan acquiring a controlling stake of Mitsubishi. This new control by Renault-Nissan will have implications not only in Japan, but on the global automotive market also.

Nissan Dayz Japan April 2016The Nissan Dayz and its twin the Mitsubishi eK are under a stop-sale order in Japan 

As a result of the halt to sales of the popular Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi eK, it is only fitting to start with the kei car market this month. Overall sales in the segment fall by 7.5% to 112.034 units with Nissan and Mitsubishi’s kei car sales dropping by 51% and 45% respectively. The top four models all post double-digit gains over last April when the tax increase for kei car taxes dampened sales. At the top of the chart the Honda N-BOX adds another 11.691 units to extend its lead over the Daihatsu Tanto which places again at #2. Suzuki takes the next four spots on the chart starting with the Alto at #3, followed by the Spacia climbing 7 places to #4, Hustler, and WagonR. Sales of the Mitsubishi-made Nissan Dayz decreased 67% following a stop-sale causing it to fall eight places to #11 in the wake of the fuel economy scandal. Its cousin, the Mitsubishi eK, drops by 64% to #19. Sales of both models, including the Dayz Roox and eK Space wagon versions, have not yet resumed.

Suzuki Ignis Japan April 2016. Picture courtesy antenna.jp

The new Toyota Prius remains the champ of the regular car chart with sales up 137% to 20.770. The Toyota Aqua stays in second place while the new Sienta reclaims the #3 spot from the Honda Fit and even leads in year to date totals aided by the new model’s sales up 953% over last year. Also boosted by a new generation is the Toyota Passo which is up 33%, climbing eleven spots to #10. And finally making its debut on the chart this month, the new Suzuki Ignis comes in at #21 having sold 7.633 units since its February launch, including 2.778 in April alone.

Previous month: Japan March 2016: Kei cars pull market down 9%, Toyota Prius reigns

One year ago: Japan April 2015: Toyota Esquire and Honda StepWGN shine

Full April 2016 Top 30 cars, Top 30 kei cars and Top 55 All-brands below.

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Japan March 2016: Kei cars pull market down 9%, Toyota Prius reigns

Toyota Prius Japan March 2016. Picture courtesy openers.jpThe Toyota Prius remains by far the most popular nameplate in Japan. 

* See the Top 53 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars and Top 20 foreigners by clicking on the title *

This article was written in collaboration with Stephen Bloom

March is typically a high volume month with car manufacturers offering big incentives before the start of the new fiscal year on April 1. This holds true again with a 41% increase over February, but year-over-year figures are not so fortunate. Monthly sales are down 8.6% from last year to 635.901 registrations. Regular cars are down 3.2% to 404.813 with imports down 7% to 37.069, but again the kei segment weighed down the overall totals dramatically. Kei sales are down a dramatic 16.7% to 231.088 though this was amplified as March 2015 sales were inflated ahead of the impending tax increase. As a result sales are anticipated to normalize somewhat next month.

VW Golf Japan March 2016. Picture courtesy of motordays.comThe VW Golf is the most popular foreigner over Q1 but Volkswagen sales are down 25%. 

Lexus (+41%) is the only Japanese brand that manages to stay in the black this month. Mitsubishi (-1%) and Suzuki (-7%) fare better than the average even with most of their lineup being kei cars, while Subaru (-33%) and Mazda (-24%) suffer the most. Mercedes (8.540 units) is the most popular foreign brand above BMW (6.516) while Volkswagen (-27%) and Audi (-21%) continue to be penalised for their emissions cheating scandal.

Honda Odyssey Japan March 2016Honda Odyssey (Australian model pictured) 

The new Toyota Prius remains the best-selling car in Japan with sales up 69% over the previous generation to 31.434 registrations. The top of the chart also remains unchanged since last month with the Toyota Aqua at #2 followed by the Honda Fit and Nissan Note. The new Toyota Sienta continues to cement its postion ahead of the Toyota Corolla and is so far staying close to both the Fit and Note in YTD totals. With no new models debuting last month there aren’t many surprises further down the chart though the recently debuted Suzuki Ignis is notably absent. The Honda Odyssey remains in the top 30 thanks to the recent addition of a hybrid version which helped boost sales 60% over last year.

Honda S660 Japan March 2016. Picture courtesy openers.jpHonda S660

Most kei models posted double digit drops compared to the pre-tax hike rally a year ago. Last year’s champion, the Honda N-BOX, retakes the top spot with 25.542 units well ahead of the Daihatsu Tanto which falls to #2 after its narrow lead last month. The Nissan Dayz and Suzuki Alto keep their #3 and #4 spots while the Suzuki WagonR jumps 4 spots to take #5 by just 20 units more than Honda’s N-WGN. A year after reigniting the kei sport segment the Daihatsu Copen is now being outsold by its rival, the Honda S660, roughly 2:1.

Mercedes GLC Japan March 2016. Picture coutesy autoc-one.jpThe Mercedes GLC-Class lands directly at #13 in the Q1 2016 foreign models ranking. 

As is the case each quarter, we can share the top-selling foreign models for the first 3 months of 2016. The VW Golf retakes the top postion with 6.836 units after slipping last quarter in the wake of the diesel scandal. Mini is back in the #2 spot with 6.010 units (this includes the Countryman and Paceman) though still well ahead of the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series which finish at #3 and #4 respectively. VW’s Polo also had a rebound, climbing 3 places to #5. Two new models make their debut on the chart this quarter: the Mercedes GLC-Class lands firmly at #13 with 1.654 units after just being released in Japan on February 9, and the smart for four, which went on sale in January, places at #18 with 1,209 units. The BMW X1 also returns inside the Top 20 thanks to its facelift: it ranks #16.

Previous post: Japan Full Year 2015: Now with exclusive Top 184 All-local models

Previous month: Japan February 2016: Toyota Prius stays put in market down 6%

One year ago: Japan March 2015: Mazda CX-3 up, Honda S660 lands

Full March 2016 Top 53 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars and Q1 2016 Top 20 imports below.

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Japan Full Year 2015: Now with exclusive Top 184 All-local models

Daihatsu Tanto Japan 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpThe Daihatsu Tanto reclaims the #1 kei-car title once different variants are split.

* See the Top 184 All-local models by clicking on the title *

This report was created with the collaboration of Stephen Bloom.

As is the tradition at BSCB we can share with you today an exclusive All-local models ranking by variant (Corolla Axio and Corolla Fielder separated for example), making the exploration of this unique market even more interesting. The Toyota Aqua still wins at this little game with 215.525 sales but the Daihatsu Tanto reclaims the kei-car lead now that the Honda NBOX sheds its NBOX Slash (#53) and NBOX+ (#89) variants. Honda still manages to place three nameplates inside the Top 10, the most of any manufacturer vs. just two for Toyota, Daihatsu and Suzuki. The Toyota Prius, now in its hatchback guise, is relegated to #14 with the Prius Alpha at #29.

Mazda Roadster Japan 2015Good result for the renewed Mazda Roadster in Japan. 

This ranking also unveils the lesser-selling “regular” cars outside of the familiar Top 30 published monthly. We then discover which nameplates just missed out on a Top 30 regular ranking in 2015, namely the Honda Grace, Toyota Porte, Subaru Forester and Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (accounting for 85.5% of overall Land Cruiser sales). The Lexus NX also shines at #56, as do the Mitsubishi Outlander (+16%). Toyota Premio (+4%) and Subaru Legacy Outback (+428%). The renewed Mazda Roadster (aka MX-5) is up 80 spots to #82 vs. #162 in 2014, the Lexus RC is up 37 to #107 and the Subaru Exiga Crossover 7 is up 40% to #120.

Toyota Mirai Japan 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpThe Toyota Mirai convinced 411 clients in Japan in 2015. 

Among 2015 launches, let’s also notice the Honda Legend landing at #127 with 2.790 sales, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross arriving at #142 with 1.544 units, the Lexus LX finally making its appearance in the Japanese sales charts at #155 with 793 deliveries and the much anticipated Toyota Mirai pointing its eco-friendly bonnet at #163 with 411 clients.

Previous post: Japan February 2016: Toyota Prius stays put in market down 6%

Original 2015 post: Japan Full Year 2015: Toyota Aqua leads, tax hike hurts kei cars

Previous year: Japan Full Year 2014: Now with exclusive Top 189 All-local models

Two years ago:Japan Full Year 2013: Now with exclusive Top 165 All-local models

Full Year 2015 Top 184 All-local models vs. Full 2014 figures below.

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Japan February 2016: Toyota Prius stays put in market down 6%

Toyota Prius Japan February 2016. Picture courtesy response.jpThe Toyota Prius is #1 in Japan for the third month running.

* See the Top 53 All-brands, Top 30 models and Top 35 kei cars by clicking on the title *

This update was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom

Demand in the Japanese automotive market is forecast to lag behind previous years and so far that predication is holding true. February monthly sales are down 6% from last year to 451.330 registrations. Regular cars are down 4.6% to 275.165, but again the kei segment shows the greatest decline at -9.1% and 176.165 registrations. Imports fare the best but are also down 2.2% to 22.806 units. Only two Japanese brands manage to stay in the black this month: Lexus (+16%) continues its upward trend and Mitsubishi (+4%) has seen some modest gains from its Delica minivan. All other domestic brands were down with several in the double digits including Mazda (-13%), Toyota (-12%), and Subaru (12%). Among foreigners, Mercedes (-5%) is the only one to snap a Top 10 ranking, while Volkswagen (-24%) and Audi (-21%) are freefalling. BMW (+19%), Volvo (+16%), Fiat (+33%) and Peugeot (+50%) impress.

Nissan X-Trail Japan February 2016The Nissan X-Trail hits a record 7th place at home. 

In the model ranking, the new Toyota Prius is #1 again at 19.010 units, up 45% from last year. The Aqua continues to hold its own at #2 while the Sienta is finally knocked off the podium after six months, surpassed by both the Honda Fit and Nissan Note. The Nissan X-Trail (+35%) climbs four places to #7, its highest ever rank on the chart. But the big move was the re-entry of the Honda Odyssey to #20 boosted 71% by the debut of its hybrid version. Suzuki also had a significant debut this month with the revival of the Ignis nameplate. The new Ignis certainly “evoques” the SUV styling that is popular with consumers today, but we will have to wait until next month to see if it can place on the chart with a full month of sales.

Suzuki Ignis Japan February 2016. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpWill the new Suzuki Ignis manage to re-ignite Suzuki sales? Answer next month.

As we have seen for much of the past year, kei models are largely down over last February when sales were inflated due to the looming tax increase that was implemented as of April 2015. The Daihatsu Tanto remains virtually level with 17.977 registrations and holds the top spot again this month. Meanwhile, only 80 units separated last year’s champion, the Honda N-BOX, from reclaiming the top spot. The Nissan Dayz and Suzuki Alto follow at #3 and #4 respectively, while the Honda N-WGN climbs five places to #5. Also climbing this month is the Daihatsu Cast, up two places to finish just below its archenemy the popular Suzuki Hustler.

Previous month: Japan January 2016: New gen Toyota Prius cements new leadership

One year ago: Japan February 2015: Honda Jade and Mazda CX-3 land

Full February 2016 Top 52 All-brands, Top 30 models and Top 35 kei cars below.

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Japan January 2016: New gen Toyota Prius cements new leadership

Toyota Prius Japan January 2016. Picture courtesy autocar.jpThe Toyota Prius is the best-selling vehicle in Japan in January. Picture courtesy autocar.jp

* See the Top 50 All-brands, Top 30 regular cars and Top 35 kei cars by clicking on the title *

This update was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

The Japanese automotive market is off to a slow start in 2016. January monthly sales improve over December, but are still down 5% from a year ago to 382.876 registrations. Regular cars are up just 0.2% to 237.661 with imports down -0.8% to 17.045 units. The kei segment continues to bear the greatest decline at -12% and 145.215 registrations due to a recent taxation increase. Lexus posts its third consecutive month of double-digit gains thanks to the new RX whose sales have been up almost 300% since its October debut. Suzuki posts a modest 2% gain thanks to its regular car lineup up 23% and its recent new Solio and Escudo models.

Lexus RX Japan January 2016. Picture courtesy response.jpThe new RX pushes Lexus to double-digit gains for the third straight month. Picture response.jp

All other Japanese brands except Toyota (+4%) were down this month, including Honda (-20%) and Nissan (-11%). Mercedes (-10%) remains the most popular foreign carmaker but steps outside the overall Top 10 with 4.120 sales, distancing Volkswagen at 2.993 (-20%), BMW at 2.590 (+18%) and Audi at 1.530 (-16%). Mini gains 13%, Volvo 34%, Porsche 70% and Smart 1170%.

Mazda Demio Black Leather Limited Japan January 2016. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpMazda Demio Black Leather Limited. Picture autoc-one.jp 

The Toyota Prius is again the best selling model in Japan at 21.036 units (+88%) since the December debut of its fourth generation. Sales of its smaller brother, the Aqua, are subsequently down (-36%) but still good enough for #2 at 12.720 units. The new Sienta (+889%) continues its stellar success story from 2015 as the new model places again at #3 for another all-Toyota podium. The Mazda Demio leaps 19 places to #6 this month thanks to the release of its “Black Leather Limited” edition and the Toyota Land Cruiser more than doubles its sales year-on-year (+101%) thanks to its facelift.

Nissan Leaf Japan January 2016. Picture courtesy response.jpThe Nissan Leaf breaks into its home Top 30 for the second time ever this month. Picture response.jp

Making its second ever appearance in the Top 30 at home is the Nissan Leaf (+151%) thanks to a minor facelift and larger 30 kWh battery which helped it get very close to its monthly record established in February 2011 (2.503 units vs. 2.593), the only other time it ranked inside the Japanese Top 30 (#25). Over in the Kei car rankings, the refreshed Daihatsu Tanto is again #1 with 15.200 units (+22%) while the Honda N-BOX and Nissan Dayz both hold onto the #2 and #3 spots respectively. The Suzuki Hustler received some minor updates and as a result climbs 4 places to #5 pushing its new rival, the Daihatsu Cast, down to #9.

Previous post: Japan Full Year 2015: Toyota Aqua leads, tax hike hurt kei cars

Previous month: Japan December 2015: New Gen pushes Toyota Prius back to #1

One year ago: Japan January 2015: Toyota Aqua triumphs thanks to facelift

Full January 2016 Top 50 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars below.

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Japan Full Year 2015: Toyota Aqua leads, tax hike hurts kei cars

Toyota Aqua X-URBAN Japan 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThird straight year in pole position for the Toyota Aqua in Japan.

* Click on title to see the Top 60 brands, Top 30 cars, Top 40 kei cars and Top 20 foreigners *

The Japanese new car market was successively hit by weakness in the regular car segment, a slump in imports and a tax hike impact kei cars very negatively, to finally end 2015 with a harsh 9% decline to 5.046.510 units. Regular cars are down 4% to 3.150.310 deliveries, kei cars are down a devastating 17% to 1.896.200 sales and imports are down 2% to 328.622.

Mazda Demio Japan 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one-jpThe Demio (+50%) helps Mazda gain 9% year-on-year in 2015. 

Brand-wise, Toyota limits its decline to 4%, earning a much improved market share at 28.7% vs. 27.1% in 2014. Honda (-14%), Suzuki (-19%) and Daihatsu (-14%) are all hurt by their dependence on kei cars while Nissan posts a disappointing 12% drop in 5th place. Mazda (+9%), Isuzu (+0.2%), Hino (+7%) and Lexus (+9%) are the only Japanese manufacturers to post year-on-year gains at home this year.

Mercedes C Class Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy aolcdn.comMercedes (+7%) is the only foreign manufacturer in the Top 10.

Mercedes manages to brilliantly overtake Volkswagen to become the best-selling foreign carmaker in Japan and the only one among the Top 10 brands thanks to sales up 7% to 65.162 vs. -19% to 54.766 for the German manufacturer handicapped by its emissions scandal. BMW is up 1% to #14 overall (#3 foreigner), Mini up 20% to #17, Porsche up 24% to #21, Jaguar up 26% and Ferrari up 28%.

Honda Shuttle Japan 2015. Picure courtesy response.jpHonda Shuttle. Picture response.jp

The Toyota Aqua is the best-selling regular car in Japan for the third consecutive year despite sales down 8% to 215.525, but should logically relinquish the 2016 pole position to the car that started the hybrid wave in the first place: the Toyota Prius, down a harsh 31% to 127.403 units but back to #1 in December thanks to the arrival of the 4th generation. The Honda Fit falls 41% to third place, not helped by the spinoff of its Shuttle variant into a nameplate of its own landing at #24 with 34.992 sales – the most successful all-new nameplate of 2015 in Japan.

Toyota Sienta Japan 2015. Picture courtesy blog.livedoor.jpThe Toyota Sienta ranked #2 from August to November.

The Mazda Demio gains 50% on 2014 to land at #8 thanks to its new generation, teasing the segment leader the Toyota Vitz. The Toyota Sienta is the revelation of 2015: the new model lifts the nameplate to a record-breaking 2nd place overall for four consecutive months between August and November, #10 over the Full Year, up a spectacular 260% year-on-year. Launched at the end of 2014, the Toyota Esquire does even better at +419% to 59.034 sales. Notice also the Toyota Vellfire (+47%), Honda StepWGN (+26%) and Toyota Alphard (+72%) all boosted by new models, while the Mazda CX-3 makes its grand entrance inside the Top 30 at #26.

Honda N-BOX Japan 2015. Picture response.jpThe Honda N-BOX is the most popular kei car in 2015. Picture response.jp 

Over in the struggling kei car aisle, the Honda N-BOX reclaims the top spot it held in 2013 thanks to deliveries going against the depressing grain at +3% to 184.920. In comparison the Daihatsu Tanto is down a harsh 33% to 157.756 and the Nissan Dayz down 11% to 150.696. The Suzuki Alto gains 4 spots to #9 thanks to sales down just 1% while the Suzuki Hustler is up two to #8. The Daihatsu Wake ends its first full year at a very satisfying 11th place (50.711 sales) and the Daihatsu Cast is the most popular all-new model at #13 ahead of the Honda S600 at #20.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer Japan 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpThe BMW 2 Series is up to #7 best-selling foreign model in Japan.

Finally, the VW Golf posts a 15th consecutive year as the best-selling foreign nameplate in Japan despite skidding down 38% over Q4. It finishes 2015 down 18% to 25.635 units. The Mini (+20%) saves its 2nd place in extremis thanks to a market-leading Q4 with the Mercedes C-Class (+33%) breathing on its neck. The BMW 2 Series storms into the foreign Top 20 and Top 10, landing directly at #7 with 8.182 sales thanks to its MPV variants. The Mercedes CLA overtakes the A-Class, E-Class and S-Class to become the #2 Mercedes in Japan (+84%), with the GLA up 26% and the VW Passat (#19) and BMW 4 Series (#20) braking into the Top 20.

Previous post: Japan December 2015: New Gen pushes Toyota Prius back to #1

Previous year (1): Japan Full Year 2014: Now with exclusive Top 189 All-local models

Previous year (2): Japan Full Year 2014: Kei cars surge, Daihatsu Tanto above Toyota Aqua

Two years ago: Japan Full Year 2013: Toyota Aqua celebrates first year on top

Two years ago (Kei): Japan Kei cars Full Year 2013: Honda N-BOX takes control

Two years ago (imports): Japan Imports Full Year 2013: BMW 3 Series up 69% to #2

Full Year 2015 Top 60 brands, Top 30 cars, Top 40 kei cars & Top 20 foreigners vs. 2014 figures below.

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Japan December 2015: New Gen pushes Toyota Prius back to #1

Toyota Prius Japan December 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpThe 4th generation Toyota Prius is now in Japanese dealerships. Picture response.jp

* Click on title to see the Top 50 brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 foreigners *

This report was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

The Japanese automotive market continues its contraction in December. Sales of new vehicles are down 15% year-on-year to 369.459 registrations, and down 9% to 5.046.510 units for the year. Regular cars are up 3% to 239.084 but not nearly enough to make up for a 35% loss in the tax-challenged kei segment that contributes only 130.375 units this month. Imports are also down 14% to 29.171 units. Lexus again boasts the biggest year-over-year increase (+43%) among domestic manufacturers followed by corporate parent Toyota (+17%) and Mitsubishi Fuso (+5%). All other Japanese brands are down this month, particularly Suzuki (-45%) and Daihatsu (-37%) who mostly produce kei cars. Hit full frontal by its emissions scandal, Volkswagen (-39%) is now #3 foreign brand below Mercedes (-11%) and BMW (-6%).

Suzuki Solio Japan December 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpSuzuki Solio

The Toyota Aqua is not the best selling model in its home market for the first time since May 2014 (Honda Fit). The venerable hybrid relinquishes its crown this month to the one that started the hybrid wave. December marks the debut of the fourth generation Toyota Prius which begins its reign with 16.406 units its first month on sale. The last time the Prius topped the chart was June 2013. Toyota retains its control of the podium as the Sienta comes in at #3 (+754%). The Honda Fit rises slightly this month to #4 while the new Suzuki Solio is up 88% over this month last year and the Toyota Land Cruiser up 54%.

Daihatsu Tanto Custom Japan December 2015Daihatsu Tanto

The reigning kei champ also loses its crown in December as the Daihatsu Tanto retakes the #1 spot with 13.374 units thanks to a refresh this month. The Honda N-BOX falls to #2 while the Nissan Dayz and Daihatsu Cast stay at #3 and #4 respectively. The Suzuki WagonR climbs three spots to #5 overtaking the Daihatsu Move and the Suzuki Alto.

Mini Clubman Japan December 2015. Picture courtesy openers.jpMini Clubman. Picture openers.jp

Continuing on the theme of new chart toppers, among imports the Mini finishes the quarter at #1 with 5.964 units ahead of the longtime champion VW Golf (-38%). The last time the Mini overtook VW was in the 2nd quarter of 2013 ahead of the launch of the current generation Golf. This time it is the damaged reputation of Volkswagen in the wake of the diesel scandal that caused its best-selling model to falter. Also keep in mind that Mini figures in Japan include all variants: Hatch, Paceman, Countryman and the newly-relaunched Clubman.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer Japan December 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpBMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Picture response.jp 

The Polo (-54%), Beetle (-52%) and Up (-52%) all lose more than half their sales year-on-year this quarter while the Passat climbs to #13 after the new generation went on sale in Japan this summer. The BMW 2 Series continues to be a success as it climbs to #5 this quarter with 2.571 units up 173% year-on-year. The Mercedes CLS is up 71% and the BMW 1 Series up 13%.

Previous month: Japan November 2015: Toyota Voxy up, Volkswagen down 32%

One year ago: Japan December 2014: Honda Grace lands directly at #10

One year ago (imports): Japan Imports Q4 2014: Mercedes C-Class up to 2nd place

Full December 2015 Top 55 brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 foreigners below.

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Japan November 2015: Toyota Voxy up, Volkswagen down 32%

Toyota Voxy Japan November 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpToyota Voxy. Picture response.jp 

* Click on title to see the Top 50 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars *

This report was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

November brought more bad news for the Japanese market that has been plagued by decreased kei car sales after a tax increase earlier in the year. Sales of new vehicles are down 7% year-on-year to 388.817 registrations, and down 9% to 4.677.052 units for the year. Regular cars rose slightly (0.3%) in November to 239.815 units, but again the kei segment is the hardest hit with sales down 16% to 149.002 units. Imports are also down (-5%) for a third consecutive month to 25.156 units. Most domestic manufacturers post only modest year-on-year gains: Honda (+3%), Subaru (+3%), and Toyota (+1%) or significant declines: Suzuki (-24%), Mitsubishi (-21%), Mazda (-14%), and Daihatsu (10%).

Smart Fortwo Japan November 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpSmart Fortwo. Picture response.jp

Only Lexus (+30%) stands out, along with a string of other foreign manufacturers including Volvo (+12%), Mini (+22%), Ford (+43%), Fiat (+56%) and Jaguar (+139%). Volkswagen (-32%) is still seeing its reputation stained by its emission scandal and is pulling Audi (-25%) along. Following the launch of the new generation Fortwo and just as the Forfour is about to hit the country’s dealership, Smart shoots up 6-fold year-on-year (+517%) to land in 25th position vs. #41 last month.

Toyota Sienta Japan November 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpToyota Sienta. Picture response.jp

In the regular models ranking, the Toyota Aqua evolves like the market (-8%) to again lead by a wide margin at 15.536 sales. The new Toyota Sienta is #2 for a fourth consecutive month, up an incredible 760% on the previous generation a year ago. The #3 spot this month goes to the Toyota Voxy (+34%) which recived a special edition to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Toyota’s Netz dealer network. Netz is one of four networks at home and is targeted to a younger audience with more stylized versions of its core models similar to Scion in the US. The venerable Toyota Prius drops further to #8 this month ahead of the December launch of its fourth generation.

Daihatsu Cast Japan November 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpDaihatsu Cast. Picture response.jp

Over in the kei car ranking the Honda N-BOX is #1 again with 14.035 units and looking to hold that title for the entire year. The Daihatsu Tanto and Nissan Dayz maintain the #2 and #3 spots respectively while after keeping close pace to its rival the Daihatsu Cast, very strong at #4 and 9.172 sales, the Suzuki Hustler drops 5 places to #10.

Previous month: Japan October 2015: Toyota Sienta and Daihatsu Cast impress

One year ago: Japan November 2014: Daihatsu Wake and Toyota Esquire land

Full November 2015 Top 50 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars below.

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Japan October 2015: Toyota Sienta and Daihatsu Cast impress

Daihatsu Cast Japan October 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThe Daihatsu Cast sells just under 9.000 units for its first full month in Japan.

* Click on title to see the Top 54 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars *

This report was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

The Japanese market continues to struggle in the wake of a tax increase on kei cars earlier this year with sales of new vehicles down 4% year-on-year to 380.089 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 4,288,237 units, down 9% from 2014. Regular cars rose slightly (0.2%) in October to 240.889 units, but that was offset by kei cars down 11% to 139.200 units. Imports were also down for a second consecutive month with sales down 7% to 21.068 units. Among domestic manufacturers, only Mitsubishi (+13%) and Toyota (+3%) post year-on-year gains while Subaru (-14%), Mazda (-13%), and Suzuki (-12%) are all down by double digits.

VW Golf Japan October 2015. Picture courtesy of motordays.comVolkswagen sales are down a devastating 48% year-on-year in Japan.

The big news among foreign carmakers is Volkswagen tumbling down 48% and Audi down 29%. It is impossible to not relate these distressing drops to the current scandal the Group is embroiled in, yet up until now we had failed to witness any significant negative sales impact in any market. This is now done with Japan, and even though the vehicles concerned by the cheating devices are present in small numbers in the country, the PR effect has been devastating so far. Porsche (+69%) remains unaffected for now.

Toyota Sienta Japan October 2015. Picture courtesy yahoo.jpToyota Sienta

In the regular models ranking, the Toyota Aqua again leads by a wide margin with 15,536 units. The new Toyota Sienta is #2 for its third consecutive month. The Honda Fit climbs three places to #3 this month thanks to a minor refresh debuting late September. The Toyota Crown also received a facelift lifting sales 42% to 5.246 units and #10. This, together with a tumble for the Mazda Demio to #21, gives Toyota seven models in the top ten this month. Finishing out the chart the recently refreshed Mitsubishi Outlander re-enters with sales up 152%.

Nissan Dayz Japan October 2015Nissan Dayz

Over on the kei chart the Honda N-BOX is #1 for a tenth consecutive month with 12.277 units followed by the Daihatsu Tanto in #2. The Nissan Dayz bucks the slumping kei trend thanks to a facelift this month which helped boost sales 13% over last October. If it were not for that increase the new Daihatsu Cast would probably have made it to the podium after its first full month on sale, yet still climbs seven places to #4 with 8.895 units. It seems that Daihatsu may have cast new spotlight on the kei-SUV segment because its rival, the Suzuki Hustler, also climbs this month rejoining the top five for the first time since April.

Previous month: Japan September 2015: Toyota Sienta hits record volume again

One year ago: Japan October 2014: Toyota Harrier hits all-time record ranking

Full October 2015 Top 54 All-brands, Top 30 cars and Top 35 kei cars below.

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