Japan September 2015: Toyota Sienta hits record volume again

Toyota Sienta Japan September 2015. Picture courtesy blog.livedoor.jpThe new Toyota Sienta smashes the nameplate’s monthly volume record at 11.277 units.

* Click on title to see the Top 65 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 imports *

This report was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

After rebounding a little last month the Japanese market hit a bump in September with sales of new vehicles down 8% year-on-year to 479,375 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 3,908,150 units, down 10% from 2014. The kei segment continues to be the biggest factor with sales down 15% to 173,573 units after the tax increase earlier this year wheras regular cars are down only 3% to 305,802 units. For the first time since March foreign brands are also in the red, down 2% to 32,304 units potentially due to diesel-connected Volkswagen weakness (-9%). Mazda (+16%), who has been spearheading clean diesel technology in Japan as an alternative to the hybrid technology, came out after the news to reaffirm that it abides with emissions regulations. Other domestic automakers were down this month with Subaru (-24%), Suzuki (-16%), Honda (-14%), and Daihatsu (-12%) posting the biggest losses.

In the regular models ranking, Toyota holds the top four positions led again by the Aqua at #1 with 18,345 units. In its second month at #2 the new Sienta is up an whopping 729% on the previous model a year ago to 11,277 and sets a record for monthly volume, smashing its previous best of 7.736 established just last month. The Nissan X-Trail climbs 6 places this month to re-enter the top ten with 6,944 units, and the Honda Shuttle sees its best month since losing the Fit branding selling 6,273 units.

Daihatsu Cast Japan September 2015The Daihatsu Cast lands in Japan this month.

Despite losing some of their tax advantage over regular cars, the kei segment remains incredibly popular with three models outselling all but the Toyota Aqua. The Honda N-BOX (+2%) leads the chart again, followed by the Nissan Dayz (-16%) who edges out last month’s #2 the Daihatsu Tanto (-33%) by just 6 units. Daihatsu can’t complain though as its newest model, the Cast, debuts solidly at #11 with 6,698 units after going on sale on September 9. Daihatsu is aiming the Cast at the popular kei-SUV segment that has been dominated by the Suzuki Hustler so far.

Mercedes C Class Japan December 2014. Picture courtesy of response.jpThe Mercedes C-Class is up 30% year-on-year to rank #2 foreign model in Japan.

The recent damage to Volkswagen’s reputation happened too late to weaken the Golf, remaining Japan’s bestselling foreign model and up 14% this quarter to 6,767 units. The Mercedes C-Class (+30%) retakes the #2 spot from Mini (+10%). Mercedes continues to lead in monthly and YTD sales thanks in particular to the CLA-Class which is up 156% to 2,884 units. Entering the chart at #15 is the VW Passat whose eighth generation went on sale in Japan this summer.

Previous month: Japan August 2015: Toyota Sienta improves 8-fold to #2 overall

One year ago (cars): Japan September 2014: New Mazda Demio starts its climb

One year ago (kei): Japan Kei cars September 2014: Daihatsu Tanto improves 88%

Full September 2015 Top 65 All-brands below. More data will be uploaded shortly.
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Japan August 2015: Toyota Sienta improves 8-fold to #2 overall

Toyota Sienta Japan August 2015. Picture courtesy hydrocycle2.comThe Toyota Sienta is up to #2 this month.

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

This August update was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

The Japanese market is finally beginning to show some signs of recovering from the tax increase on kei cars with sales of new vehicles down just 2% year-on-year in August to 327.049 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 3.428.776 units, down 10% on 2014. The kei segment continues to show the biggest decrease but it is now out of the double digits with sales down 9% to 115.746 units. Regular cars are up 2% to 211.303 units and foreign brands are up 8% to 19.692.

Domestic automakers show contrasting results ranging from Lexus (+34%) and Mazda (+25%) with the largest gains, to Suzuki (-17%) and Honda (-11%) each with double digit losses. Daihatsu (+3%) managed to post its first increase of 2015. Among foreign manufacturers, Mercedes remains on top and breaks into the overall Top 10 at #10 with stable sales at 4.581, above Volkswagen (+16%), BMW (+8%), Audi (+8%) and Mini (+11%). Porsche (+126%), Jaguar (+148%) and Ferrari (+103%) take off.

Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Japan August 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThe new model lifts Toyota Land Cruiser sales up 53%.

In the regular models ranking, Toyota dominates the podium though not with the models you might expect. In July the Prius fell to its lowest ranking since the third generation debuted back in May 2009 and it remains at #5 in August. That trend will likely continue until the next generation launches later this year, but in the meantime the top spot is being kept warm by the Toyota Aqua with 12,390 units. The biggest news is the new Sienta coming in at #2 and up an astounding 720% on the previous model in August 2014 to its highest ever monthly volume of 7.736, edging out the Corolla by just 21 units.

Honda Shuttle Japan August 2015. Picture courtesy autocar.jpThe Honda Shuttle is up to #11.

The Honda Shuttle jumps nine spots this month to #11 with 4.775 units sold and continues to hold the Fit back since becoming its own nameplate this year. Just last week Suzuki lauched the new generation Solio (+27%) which already lands at #20 and will surely climb further with a full month of sales. Also debuting this month is the facelifted Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series (+53%) while its more luxurious cousin, the Lexus LX, is released at home for the first time.

Toyota Pixis Mega Japan August 2015Toyota Pixis Mega

Over on the kei chart there was less movement, but that will change soon as Daihatsu continues to tease its new model that will go on sale next week. The Honda N-BOX (+3%) posts a slight gain and holds onto the top spot, followed again by the Daihatsu Tanto (-15%) at #2. The Nissan Dayz (-10%) comes in at #3 both this month and year-to-date while the Toyota Pixis series (+17%) climbs modestly since the addition of the Pixis Mega.

Previous post: Japan July 2015: Now with Top 150 All-local models

Previous month: Japan July 2015: New generation lifts Toyota Sienta to #8

One year ago: Japan August 2014: Subaru Levorg breaks into Top 10

Full August 2015 Top 30 regular, kei cars and Top 55 All-brands below.

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Japan July 2015: Now with Top 150 All-local models (BSCB exclusive)

Toyota Mirai Japan July 2015. Picture courtesy gensun.org41 Toyota Mirai found a new home in Japan in July.

* See the Top 150 All-local models by clicking on the title *

Today we can share with you very rare  All-local models data for Japan. The first amendment to the July Top 30 regular cars we published earlier this month is the arrival of the Lexus NX at #41 overall and #29 regular cars with 2.430 sales. Somehow Lexus doesn’t report sales fast enough to be included in the monthly JADA Top 30. The success of the NX at home in Japan is spectacular: it accounts for 55% of Lexus domestic sales in July. Interestingly, the Toyota Auris ranks at a low #65 with 938 sales while both the Mazda Axela (aka Mazda3) and Atenza (aka Mazda6) are now well past the honeymoon period that accompanies a new launch in Japan, ranking #45 and #66 respectively. A strong seller in China, the Honda Jade is a lot shyer at home (#67), while the Lexus RC (#104) and RCF (#111) are posting strong scores. The Toyota Mirai points its hydrogen-fueled bonnet at #131 with 41 units finding a new home in July.

Previous post: Toyota July 2015: New generation lifts Toyota Sienta to #8

Previous month: Japan June 2015: Facelifted Toyota Corolla confirms #2 spot

One year ago (regular): Japan July 2014: Subaru Levorg almost inside Top 10

One year ago (kei): Japan July 2014: Suzuki Hustler breaks records

Full July 2015 Top 150 All-local models below.

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Japan July 2015: New generation lifts Toyota Sienta to #8

Toyota Sienta Japan July 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpToyota Sienta

* See the Top 30 regular cars, kei cars and Top 55 brands by clicking on the title *

Sales of new vehicles in Japan are down 8% year-on-year in June to 425.093 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 3.101.727 units, down 11% on 2014. New tax rates for kei cars are especially pulling down that segment with sales down 18% to 142.854 units while regular cars are down 1% to 279.375 units and foreign brands are faring the best at 20.607, up 12%. Toyota follows the market at -8% to 132.917 sales and 31.3% share vs. 28.2% year-to-date. New models are helping Mazda maintain double digit increases this month (up 35%), while Honda (-15%), Suzuki (-18%), and Daihatsu (-11%) pay the price of their over-reliance on kei car sales.

Mitsubishi Outlander Japan July 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpMitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi (+1%) and Isuzu (+2%) resist at #8 and #9 while Lexus is up a whopping 35% to 4.392 sales and up 5 spots on June to #10, making the Top 10 entirely Japanese and overtaking Mercedes (+13%) and BMW (+16%) to become the best-selling luxury brand at home. Renault (+23%), Maserati (+33%), Volvo (+40%), Porsche (+84%), Lamborghini (+88%) and Ferrari (+145%) all post very impressive year-on-year gains in such a negative context.

Daihatsu Move Custom Japan July 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpDaihatsu Move Custom

In the regular models ranking, the Toyota Aqua continues its reign at #1 with 17,711 units followed by the Corolla in its third month at #2 following its recent facelift. But the big news this month is the new generation Toyota Sienta (+445%) that launched July 7 which re-enters the chart at #8 with 7,377 units, its best ever rank and monthly volume. Up 8 places to #18 the Subaru Impreza (+45%) adds a hybrid model to its lineup. The Mitsubishi Outlander (+233%) also re-enters the chart at #25 thanks to a mid-cycle facelift.

Suzuki Lapin Japan July 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jp Suzuki Lapin Japan July 2015b. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpSuzuki Lapin

Most kei models are down double digits over last year in the wake of the April 1 tax change including the Honda N-BOX (-19%) at #1 with 11,879 units and Daihatsu Tanto (-31%) at #2. The Suzuki WagonR climbs 5 places to #3 while its stablemate Alto is boosted 6% thanks to the new generation Suzuki Lapin, as is the Daihatsu Move – please note that while Lapin is generally considered its own nameplate totals are included under Alto whose platform it shares. Lapin sales are estimated at approximately 4,000 units. The Honda N-ONE climbs 4 places thanks to a minor facelift and new sporty trims. Toyota adds yet another model to its flailing Pixis lineup with the Pixis Mega, a rebadged Daihatsu Wake.

Previous post: Japan 1st Half 2015: Mercedes impressive in market down 11%

Previous month: Japan June 2015: Facelifted Toyota Corolla confirms #2 spot

One year ago (regular): Japan July 2014: Subaru Levorg almost inside Top 10

One year ago (kei): Japan July 2014: Suzuki Hustler breaks records

Full July 2015 Top 30 regular cars, kei cars and Top 55 brands below.

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Japan 1st Half 2015: Mercedes impressive in market down 11%

Mercedes C Class Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy aolcdn.comMercedes sales are up 19% year-on-year in Japan, earning it a spot in the Top 10.

* See the Top 60 brands, Top 30 regular cars, Top 30 kei cars and Top 20 imports by clicking on the title *

The Japanese new car market is suffering in this First Half of 2015: down 11% to 2.676.634 registrations. To the aftermath of 2014 record sales due to an impending tax increase for regular cars (-8%) now need to be added a kei car tax hike that got implemented on April 1 and put a significant dent into that segment (-15%). Only foreign brands are in positive territory so far this year, but just: up 0.5% to 144.639 sales. Brand-wise, Toyota (-9%) manages to improve its market share to 27.7% whereas Honda (-18%), Suzuki (-16%), Daihatsu (-13%) and Nissan (-16%) are all sharply affected by declining kei sales. Mazda spectacularly bucks the trend at +14% but remains discreet under 5% share, while Mercedes is the hero of the year in Japan with sales up 19% to break into the Top 10 most popular brands, overtaking Volkswagen (-17%) for the title of best-selling foreign carmaker in Japan. Further down, notice Mini up 33%, Porsche up 31% and Renault up 14%.

Toyota Aqua X-URBAN Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThe Toyota Aqua is now the best-selling vehicle in Japan.

It’s amazing what a year can do: under intense threat from the Honda Fit exactly one year ago, the Toyota Aqua now has absolutely no rivals in the regular cars ranking (and in any ranking for this matter): thanks to a late 2014 facelift and the addition of a crossover-style variant (the X-URBAN), its sales are down just 2% year-on-year to 121.240 which is 70% above the next best-selling nameplate in the country: the Toyota Prius (-31%), while the Honda Fit is in freefalling mode (-45%). Nice hold for the Nissan Note (-9%) overtaking the Toyota Corolla (-16%) although the latter’s facelift has boosted it back up to #2 in both May and June, so it should climb up the ladder between now and the end of 2015.

Mazda Demio Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one-jpMazda Demio

The Mazda Demio is enjoying a totally new life thanks to the new generation boosting it up 144% year-on-year to #7, the Toyota Esquire is the most popular all-new nameplate in the country, landing at a stunning 10th place with 36.566 sales and accompanied in the Top 30 with the Mazda CX-3 (#23) and Honda Grace (#27). The Toyota Harrier is up 8% to #12, the Toyota Vellfire up 29% to #13, the Toyota Alphard up 39% to #21 and the Subaru Levorg up 6-fold on a year ago – it launched in May 2014 – to #24. I give you the rankings for now, complete analysis will follow shortly.

Daihatsu Wake Honda N-BOX Suzuki Hustler Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpNot the best timing for a kei car launch but the Daihatsu Wake lands at #11. Behind it: the #1 kei best-seller the Honda N-BOX and the Suzuki Hustler, 2014’s most popular kei car launch.

Over on the kei cars charts, the Honda N-BOX reclaims the pole position it held over the Full Year 2013 off the Daihatsu Tanto thanks to sales up 11% to 106.985 units vs. -35% and 87.602 for the Tanto, now only a couple hundreds units above the Nissan Dayz at 87.404 (-12%). The Daihatsu Move is up two spots on a year ago to #4, the Suzuki Alto up 4 ranks and 5% to #5, the Suzuki Hustler up 37% to #8 and the Daihatsu Wake makes a splash at #11 and 34.773 deliveries.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpBMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Among foreign models, the VW Golf remains in pole position despite sales down 21% to 14.140 units which would still earn it a spot in the Top 30 cars. The Mercedes C-Class jumps a spectacular 115% to 2nd place while the Mini is up a strong 33% to #3 and the VW Polo is up 16% to #4. Other great foreign performers in Japan over the period include the Audi A3 up 17%, BMW 2 Series leaping up to 8th place overall with 3.394 sales, the Mercedes GLA landing directly at #11, the Mercedes CLA up 50% to #15 and the BMW 4 Series pointing its bonnet at #20.

Previous month: Japan June 2015: Facelifted Toyota Corolla confirms #2 spot

Q1 2015 update: Japan 1st Quarter 2014: Demio and CX-3 keep Mazda up, market down 14%

FY 2014 updates:

Japan Full Year 2014: Kei cars surge, Daihatsu Tanto outsells Toyota Aqua

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

One year ago: Japan June 2014: Toyota Aqua back to #1, Honda Vezel up to #4

One year ago (kei): Japan kei cars June 2014: Daihatsu Tanto leads, Copen returns

One year ago (imports): Japan Imports Q2 2014: Sedan pushes Audi A3 up to 5th place

Full H1 2015 Top 60 brands, Top 30 regular cars, Top 30 kei cars and Top 20 imports vs. Full H1 2014 figures below.

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Japan June 2015: Facelifted Toyota Corolla confirms #2 spot

Toyota Corolla Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy autocar.jpThe Toyota Corolla is the 2nd best-selling passenger car in Japan for the 2nd straight month.

* See the Top 60 brands, Top 30 regular cars, Top 30 kei cars and Top 20 imports by clicking on the title *

This update was created in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

Sales of new vehicles in Japan are down 2% year-on-year in June to 442.631 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 2.676.634 units, down 11% on 2014. The industry is still feeling the impact of new tax rates that hit kei cars on April 1 with their sales down 13% to 163.256 units while regular cars are up 5% to 279.375 led by foreign brands at 29.031, up a whopping 19%. Toyota (+4%) and Honda (-7%) dominate, Mazda (+47%), Mercedes (+52%), BMW (+25%) and Lexus (+47%) buck the trend with splendid year-on-year gains this month, while Mitsubishi (-24%), Suzuki (-21%), and Daihatsu (-7%) continue to be pulled down by ther kei divisions. Further down, Mini (+47%), Porsche (+60%) and Ferrari (+102%) make themselves noticed.

Mazda Demio Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy webcb.netMazda Demio

In the regular models ranking, Toyota continues to monopolise the podium starting with the Aqua with 18.087 sales and marking its 13th consecutive month at #1. The recently facelifted Toyota Corolla is up 36% and holds onto #2, followed by the Prius (-19%) and Honda Fit (-33%). The new Honda StepWGN climbs to #7 and 7.572 units (+107%), its best performance since September 2013. At #8 the new Mazda Demio is up 4-fold on June 2014 as its crossover cousin CX-3 slips down 6 spots on May to #23. The new Toyota Vellfire (+149%) and Alphard (+174%) both continue to perform well, coming in at #11 and #17 respectively, while the third sibling, the new Toyota Esquire, shines at #12. The new Honda Shuttle climbs up 4 ranks to #15 in its first full month in market with 5.322 units.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy gazoo.comToyota Land Cruiser 70

Finally, the Toyota Land Cruiser makes a return appearance in the ranking this month at #29 with 1.844 units as the 30th anniversary edition 70 series enters its final few months of availability. Over on the kei car chart, the Honda N-BOX is again in the lead up 20% with 16.871 units. Last year’s champ, the Daihatsu Tanto is up one place to #2, and the Daihatsu Move climbs four to take the #3 spot this month, leaving the Nissan Dayz in #4. The new Honda S660 adds another 1.095 units to its total while its rival the Daihatsu Copen adds a third variant this month, the retro-styled Cero.

Mercedes CLA Japan June 2015. Picture courtesy trendy.nikkeibp.co.jpMercedes CLA

As another quarter closes we have the foreign model ranking with the VW Golf again in #1 despite sales down 2% to 5.754 units, the Mini is up 37% to retake the #2 from the new Mercedes C-Class, itself up 137%. Mercedes continues to best Volkswagen for market share in 2015 lifted by strong sales of the CLA (+181%) and GLA (+116%). Other foreign models doing well in Japan over the period include the BMW 1 Series (+72%), Audi A3 (+21%), Fiat 500 and Volvo V40 (+18%).

Previous month: Japan May 2015: Honda Shuttle and Mazda Roadster land

One year ago: Japan June 2014: Toyota Aqua back to #1, Honda Vezel up to #4

One year ago (kei): Japan kei cars June 2014: Daihatsu Tanto leads, Copen returns

One year ago (imports): Japan Imports Q2 2014: Sedan pushes Audi A3 up to 5th place

Full June 2015 Top 60 brands, Top 30 regular cars, Top 15 kei cars and Q2 2015 Top 20 imports below.

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Japan May 2015: Honda Shuttle and Mazda Roadster land

Honda Shuttle Japan May 2015. Picture courtesy carview.co.jpHonda Shuttle

* See the Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 regular cars, Top 35 kei cars by clicking on the title *

Japan report prepared in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

Sales of new vehicles in Japan are down 8% year-on-year in May to 335.644 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 2.234.004 units, down 12.5% on 2014. The overall market is single-handedly pulled into negative territory by the kei car segment hit by new taxes implemented on April 1: kei cars are down 20% to 125.755 deliveries whereas regular cars are up 1% to 209.889 units including 20.104 foreign models, up a stunning 12%. Toyota bucks the trend by dropping only 1% thanks to the Aqua (+19%), facelifted Corolla (+9%) and Prius (-10%) monopolising the regular models podium, Suzuki (-13%), Honda (-14%) and Nissan (-10%) follow while Daihatsu tumbles down 28%. There are 3 manufacturers actually gaining volume year-on-year in the Top 10: Mazda up a spectacular 40% thanks to a slew of new models (see below), Subaru up 3% and Mercedes up 40% also. Further down, notice also Audi (+16%), Peugeot (+21%), Lexus (+24%), BMW (+28%), Mini (+30%) and Porsche (+45%) all delivering impressive gains.

Toyota Corolla Japan May 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpThe Japanese Toyota Corolla was recently facelifted.

In the regular models ranking, the podium 100% Toyota kicks the Honda Fit down to #4 while the Toyota Esquire continues on its fantastic run in 5th place with 7.109 sales, the new Honda StepWGN is up 71% to #8 and the Honda Vezel which received a slight refresh in April is back up 6 spots to #9 but down 39% year-on-year. The Toyota Vellfire is up 85% to #12, Nissan X-Trail up 50% to #13 thanks to a new hybrid variant, Toyota Alphard up 127% to #16 and Subaru Levorg up 157% to #29. There are two newcomers in the Top 30 this month: the Honda Shuttle, previously branded as Fit Shuttle, launched on May 15 and lands at #19 with 2.938 units also launched the new Shuttle May 15 which debuts at #19 with 2,938 units and the new generation Mazda Roadster (aka MX-5 Miata) went on sale in its home market on May 21 and already triples its total sales from 2014, coming in at #24 with 2.157 deliveries.

Mazda Roadster Japan May 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpThe Mazda Roadster ranks #24 at home this month.

Over on the kei car chart, the Honda N-BOX is again in #1 with 10,398 units, the Nissan Dayz is up 4 spots to #2, the Daihatsu Tanto up one to #3, the Suzuki Spacia climbs 5 ranks to #4 thanks to a May refresh, the Suzuki Alto is up two to #5 and the Suzuki Wagon R is down one to #6 while the new generation Suzuki Every Wagon is up 96% to #13.

Previous month: Japan April 2015: Toyota Esquire and Honda StepWGN shine

One year ago: Japan May 2014: Honda Vezel and Toyota Harrier outstanding again

One year ago (Kei): Japan Kei cars May 2014: Daihatsu Tanto & Suzuki Wagon R overall best-sellers

Full May 2015 Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 regular and Top 35 kei cars below.

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Japan April 2015: Toyota Esquire and Honda StepWGN shine

Honda StepWGN Japan April 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpHonda StepWGN

* See the Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 regular vehicles and Top 35 kei cars by clicking on the title *

This Japan update was prepared in collaboration with Stephen Bloom.

The big news in Japan in April is the tax rate hike on kei cars to align them with the rest of the vehicles available in Japan. The current government hopes that this will result with the local carmakers putting more focus and development on standard automobiles that play a much bigger part in the global market than the kei cars that are tailored specifically towards the Japanese domestic market and regulations. This tax increase caused kei sales to drop 22% in April to 121.111 units, the biggest drop since the Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 2011. Reversely, sales of regular cars are up 5% to 198.371 deliveries, the first year-on-year gains in 9 months as the market shows signs of stabilising after last year’s consumption tax increase. Foreign brands fare the best of all, with overall sales up 17% to 15.167 units.

Toyota Esquire Japan April 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpToyota Esquire

Brand-wise, Toyota cements its leadership of its home market with sales up 10% to 101.420 units for a 31.7% market share vs. 27.3% year-to-date, while Suzuki shoots up 3 spots on March to 2nd place overall despite sales down 17% to 49.523 and 15.5% share vs. 12.5% so far in 2015. This way Suzuki overtakes Honda (-23%), Daihatsu (-18%) and Nissan (-38%). Mazda soars 45% on April 2014 but remains 6th above Subaru (+21%), Mitsubishi (-48%) and Isuzu (+34%). Mercedes confirms it is now the favourite foreign manufacturer in Japan, remaining inside the overall Top 10 thanks to sales up 36% to 3.189. It is followed by Volkswagen (-11%), BMW (+49%), Audi (-15%), Mini (+31%), Volvo (+21%) and Porsche (+127%).

Suzuki Hustler Japan April 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpSuzuki Hustler

In the model rankings, the Top 3 are the usual suspects: Toyota Aqua, Prius and Honda Fit, but the big news resides in the minivan segment, starting with the new Toyota Esquire hitting its highest ranking and volume so far at #4 with 7,503 units. Sales of the larger Vellfire and Alphard are up 110% and 141% respectively, following the debut of the latest generation. But the biggest jump this month goes to the new generation Honda StepWGN: after dropping off the chart completely last month lands at #12 after only going on sale on April 24. The StepWGN’s unique “waku waku” gate (a Japanese onomatopoeia for “exciting”) is generating a lot of buzz as it can be opened either as a traditional liftgate or as a fifth door for additional access to the rear seats. Mazda had another solid month with the new Demio up 166% to #10 and the all-new CX-3 climbing to #16 (3.259 sales) just behind its rival, the Honda Vezel at #15 and 3.328, down a harsh 58% on April 2014.

Honda S660 Japan April 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpHonda S660

Over on the kei chart, the Honda N-BOX is again in #1 with 10,218 units, but whereas last month it was the best-selling model overall beating out even the Toyota Aqua, this month due to the kei car tax increase it stands 5,000 units below. However, even with the tax increase kei cars remain an extremely popular and significant segment in the market. If ranked together 6 of the top 10 models and nearly 40% of all vehicles sold in Japan are keis. Faring the best in this kei slump is the Suzuki Hustler coming in at an all-time best ranking of #2 (10.015 sales) while the Daihatsu Move comes in at #3. After sneaking into the chart last month with the registration of some dealer demos, Honda’s new kei roadster, the S660, finally went on sale April 2 and climbs to #14 with 1.413 units sold.

Previous post: Japan 1st Quarter 2015: New Demio and CX-3 keep Mazda up, market down 13%

Previous month: Japan March 2015: Mazda CX-3 up, Honda S660 lands

One year ago (regular vehicles): Japan April 2014: Toyota Voxy on podium, Honda Fit now #1 year-to-date

One year ago (kei cars): Japan Kei cars April 2014: Daihatsu Tanto and Nissan Dayz on top

Full April 2015 Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 regular vehicles and Top 35 kei cars below.

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Japan 1st Quarter 2015: Demio & CX-3 keep Mazda up, market at -14%

Mazda Demio Japan March 2015. Picture courtesy of autocar.jpThe Mazda Demio is up to #5 among regular vehicles.

* See the Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 regular vehicles, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 imports *

The first quarter of 2014 saw record sales in Japan due to an impending tax increase, so the 2015 market is not a pretty sight for now: down 14% to 1.578.879 registrations, split between 863.182 regular domestic vehicles (-15%), 635.336 kei cars (-14%) and 80.361 foreign models (-9%). The Top 3 brands fare worse than the market and therefore lose share: Toyota is down 17% to 26.4%, Honda down 20% to 15.1% and Nissan down 19% to 13.1%, now threatened for the last spot on the podium by Daihatsu down 9% to 12.9%. Suuzki rounds up the Top 5 at 11.9% share. Mazda (+0.2%), Isuzu (+2%) and Hino (+3%) are the only domestic brands to gain ground on 2014.

Mercedes C Class Japan March 2015. Picture courtesy of response.jpMercedes is now the best-selling foreign marque in Japan, overtaking Volkswagen.

Over of the foreign marques, Mercedes has just managed a coup d’état: it overtakes fellow German manufacturer Volkswagen thanks to sales up 6% to 18,827 units vs. 18.024 for VW (-22%). Mini (+29%), Renault (+13%), Jeep (+6%) and Porsche (+2%) also shine while Abarth (#29) and DS (#33) are new this year.

Toyota Aqua X-URBAN Japan March 2015. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpToyota Aqua X-URBAN

In difficulty a year ago and under pressure from the Honda Fit, the Toyota Aqua suddenly takes an almost insurmountable advantage over its competitors in the models ranking thanks to a major facelift in December and the addition of the crossover-styled X-URBAN model: down just 6% to 73,170 deliveries, well above the Toyota Prius (-40%) and Honda Fit (-47%). The Mazda Demio is the best performer in the Top 30 by far thank to the new model: up 116% to #5.

Toyota Esquire Japan December 2014The Toyota Esquire is the most popular all-new nameplate over the period.

The Toyota Voxy (#6), Honda Vezel (#8), Toyota Harrier (#11) and Subaru Legacy (#29) are the only nameplates in progression year-on-year in a Top 30 that welcome a whopping four all-new models: the Toyota Esquire is the most popular at #14, followed by the Subaru Levorg (#20), Honda Grace (#23) and Mazda CX-3 (#27), replacing the CX-5 in the Top 30.

Among Kei cars, the Honda N-BOX reclaims a pole position it last held over FY2013 thanks to the addition of its ‘coupe’ variant the N/and sales up 15% to 69.499, above the Nissan Dayz (-3%), Daihatsu Tanto (-26%) and Daihatsu Move (-5%). The Suzuki Alto is up 23% to #6, the über-cute Suzuki Histler up 54% to #9 and the Daihatsu Wake lands at #11 with 22.796 units. Finally, the Daihatsu Copen (#24) and Honda S660 (#34) bring back the sport in kei this year…

In the foreign models charts, the Mercedes C-Class is the big winner, doubling its sales from a year ago to #2 overall below only the VW Golf (-30%). The Mini (+29%), VW Polo (+22%) and Audi A3 (+13%) also post very solid increases, all inside the Top 6. We welcome two new nameplates inside the Top 8: a brilliant start for both the Mercedes GLA (#7) and BMW 2 Series (#8). All other models in the Top 20 are down on 2014.

Full Q1 2015 Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 regular vehicles, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 imports vs. Full Q1 2014 figures below.

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

Mazda CX-3 Japan March 2015Mazda CX-3

* See the Top 55 brands, 30 regular cars, Top 36 All-kei cars & Top 15 imports by clicking on the title *

Analysis written in cooperation with Stephen Bloom.

After dropping by 15% in February, March Japanese new car sales reduce their fall slightly at -11% overall to 695,411 registrations. Mazda is the only domestic manufacturer to post a year-over-year increase at 1%, with Toyota and Honda both down 15%, Daihatsu down 2%, Nissan down 18% and Suzuki down 7%. Regular cars are down 13%, kei cars are down 8% and foreign models down 6%.

Toyota Alphard Japan March 2015. Picture courtesy response.jpToyota Alphard

In the regular model rankings, Toyota Aqua keeps its crown with 30,414 units, the first time in a year (since March 2014) that sales reached the 30,000 mark. The next 4 spots stay the same from last month, but the Honda Vezel up 23% jumps into #5. Mazda’s rival small crossover, the all-new CX-3, posts 5,503 units in its first full month climbing to #22. The new generation Vellfire is up 36% while its more conservatively styled twin Alphard is up 26% to #20. The Subaru Levorg is up 8 spots this month with 6,036 units, its second highest volume since debuting last spring.

Honda S660 Japan March 2015Honda S660

Over on the kei chart, the Honda N-Box is March’s best-selling nameplate edging out Toyota Aqua by 219 units and 30,633 sales. This includes the new N-Box Slash version that debuted in December. All in all, sales of Honda’s “N” series kei cars have now topped 1 million units, solidifying the brand’s place in this unique Japanese market. After nearly two decades since the Honda Beat was last produced, the S660 officially goes on sale April 2 after the concept was shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, therefore the 19 units registered in March are likely dealer demos. Adding to the diversification of the kei segment, Suzuki released this month the Turbo RS version of its popular Alto lifting sales to 15,788.

Mercedes-Benz C250, AMG Line, Avantgarde, Diamantsilber metallicMercedes C-Class

As is the case every quarter, we have access to the top-selling foreign models with the perennial champ VW Golf keeping the top spot despite sales down 30% to 8,386 units. In #2 again is the new generation Mercedes C-Class up 103% with an all-time best quarter score of 7,082 units. The Mercedes GLA also had its best quarter so far since debuting in Japan last summer at #7 and 2,076 sales. The new BMW 2 Series is up 12 spots to #8 with 1,884 units. Further down the ranking both the Mercedes B-Class and Fiat 500 make their reappearance at #18 and #20 respectively.

Previous month: Japan February 2015: Honda Jade and Mazda CX-3 land

One year ago: Japan March 2014: Toyota Voxy one in 7 models to break all-time records

One year ago (Kei cars): Japan Kei cars March 2014: Daihatsu Tanto above 30,000 sales!

Full March 2014 Top 55 brands, Top 30 regular cars, Top 30 Kei cars and Q1 Top 15 imports below.

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