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Japan March 2013: Toyota Aqua & Nissan Note hit highest volume

Toyota Aqua Japan March 2013Toyota Aqua

* See the Top 30 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

Seventh consecutive month of year-on-year decline for new car sales in Japan, down 16% to 420,069 registrations. The top of the models ranking is extremely stable this month: the Toyota Aqua continues to amaze the world: lodges its 6th month in a row in pole position and breaks the 30,000 monthly unit barrier for the first time ever at a record 33,693 sales, up 16% on March 2012 which was its previous best. The Aqua’s advantage over the #2 (the faithful Toyota Prius) has grown back up slightly to 1,166 units vs. 1,063 last month.

Nissan Note Japan March 2013Nissan Note

In third position for the 7th consecutive month, the Nissan Note passes the 20,000 monthly unit milestone for the very first time, delivering a record 21,336 units, double its March 2012 score and beating its previous best of 18,355 sales from last September. The Honda Fit is down a painful 40% at #4 with 20,327 units, followed by the Nissan Serena at 12,905 (-4%). The Toyota Crown is in great shape again, up 145% year-on-year to #6 while the Mazda CX-5 is back from outside the Top 30 to #14. There are 3 Subarus in the Top 30 potentially for the first time ever in Japan: the Impreza at #11 (+3), Forester at #20 (+6) and Legacy at #30.

Previous month: Japan February 2013: Mazda Atenza and Mitsubishi Outlander up

One year ago: Japan March 2012: Toyota Prius, Aqua and Honda Fit all beat records

Full March 2013 Top 30 Ranking Table below.

Japan March 2013:

PosModelMar/12Feb2013Pos2012
1Toyota Aqua33,69316%180,68512
2Toyota Prius32,527-29%273,72321
3Nissan Note21,336101%352,36237
4Honda Fit20,327-40%441,40743
5Nissan Serena12,905-4%532,06356
6Toyota Vitz12,301-35%726,09775
7Toyota Crown11,592145%626,587626
8Toyota Corolla10,4322%1022,26698
9Honda Freed10,403-36%823,34184
10Honda StepWGN9,04614%920,860109
11Subaru Impreza7,368-2%1415,9731113
12Mazda Demio6,577-28%1215,2181211
13Toyota Spade6,384new1115,0491329
14Mazda CX-56,15833%n/a10,6621824
15Toyota Passo5,595-39%1512,6381512
16Toyota Vellfire5,290-42%1313,3921410
17Toyota Voxy5,198-40%1612,0751614
18Suzuki Swift5,176-11%1811,0551715
19Toyota Estima4,439-14%219,8662020
20Subaru Forester4,364n/a2610,11619n/a
21Suzuki Solio4,086-25%259,0652421
22Toyota Noah4,035-36%199,5372222
23Nissan March4,023-48%249,2142319
24Toyota Porte3,991n/a239,62321n/a
25Toyota Ractis3,855-60%308,0472816
26Toyota Wish3,717-32%278,1942723
27Toyota Alphard3,687-38%228,9602517
28Nissan X-Trail3,415-31%208,9282628
29Toyota Mark X3,278n/an/a6,644n/an/a
30Subaru Legacy3,073n/an/a6,218n/a30

Source: JADA, many thanks to Stephen for your help!

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Fastlane, this list only shows top Japanese sellers – see separate article for imports – the Golf makes it into the top 20 if you to include it in this list

  2. This seems to be a recurring topic, but I’d like to offer some perspective and numbers for everyone to think about. First and foremost, it seems a lot of criticism of the Japanese market comes from the US where 95% (I’ll address this next) domestic sales would be considered patriotic. In fact, the US welcomed Japanese cars only a bit more warmly than the Chinese did in recent months. I could go on and on about cultural issues, but when it comes down it they are only a fraction of the picture.

    First, domestic sales are not >97%. Very high, yes, about 95% last year though I will add that this includes Japanese models that are manufactured in other countries and imported to Japan. There have not been tariff barriers for decades. Japanese consumers choose Japanese cars largely because they have been tailored to the market. Japan is a highly urbanized country and its cities densely populated. Space is the number one commodity. Japanese cars have always been small compared to American cars in particular. They have also been fuel efficient. Japan has little in the way of natural resources and has to import nearly all of its oil and natural gas. This is also what led to the rise of the Japanese imports into the US. More that a third of all cars sold in Japan are kei cars which are mandated to have engines of less than .66 liters and a maximum 63 hp. I have often read these cars decried as ugly boxes on wheels, but Japanese love them. Why? Because they are boxes on wheels. They are easy to park, sip gas, and the boxier they are the more room you have on the interior. Some are downright spacious compared to the subcompacts in other countries. And in Tokyo you don’t have to worry about hp beacuse you aren’t going to be driving very fast. So are you surprised that there isn’t a line of foreign automakers waiting to build low-profit little cars that the rest of the world thinks are ugly and won’t buy anywhere else just to get some market share in Japan?

    But I her you, you are saying what about the other 60%. Well, for starters, a third of them are hybrids and most not much bigger than the kei cars. Japan has not only invested in hybrid development but has been the primary producer of hybrid cars for years, whereas other automakers have only recently begun offering hybrid models in earnest. This goes back not only to the oil issue, but to emissions concerns and discovery of domestic metal deposits. This will only increase as concern about both energy independence and conservation grows following the Fukushima disaster. So this leaves about only half the market that any foreign automaker would have even a chance at. So you either have to be a small fuel efficient car or a glitzy luxury brand to really stand a chance in Japan and those are the brands that have had any amount of success in Japan. Remember most subcompacts in the last couple decades that had Ford or Chevy on their grills were rebadged Japanese cars. Now why would they even think about opening up a dealership to make a few bucks on 3 cylinder hatch when you can get the same car down the street with a Suzuki badge? On the other end of the spectrum you have the rich guys who will and do buy any car they want. They don’t worry about parking spaces because they have a custom glass garage to show off their wheels. Or not even the ultra weathy, let’s talk about the more common, finacially comfortable businessman who has a thing for cars. They overwhelmingly buy European, particularly German just like their American counterparts do.

    One last thing, diesel is harder to find and has a worse reputation in Japan than in the US. This will likely change as the big 4 continue to develop hi-tech clean diesels, but the real path to success in Japan is to keep making small, fuel efficient cars. It will take years, maybe decades, but I guarantee if the US companies think it is impossible, they are only helping to prove themselves right.

    For the record, I am American, I have lived and studied in Japan with a focus on Korean relations (notice I didn’t touch on that, that would have been an even longer post… maybe next time).

  3. @sonico
    That’s a weak argument.
    Consider Germany in that case- they have 6 major manufacturers, 8 if you include VW’s ‘non-German’ stablemates. Yet you hardly see the Germans buying >97% German cars, do you? And that’s despite the fact that German cars are a cut above the Japanese in every aspect.

    All this tells me is that the Japanese buying public are partial and partisan, or at the very least misinformed of the quality of the foreign brands.
    I even heard the Koreans have pulled out of Japan altogether- now tell me, are Hyundai’s that much inferior to Toyotas to warrant such a move?
    Think about it.

  4. Well, if you consider that Japan has at least 9 major manufacturers covering basically ALL market niches, I don’t find this weird at all…

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