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* This article has now been updated with an exclusive Top 50 brands ranking *
After a somewhat artificial boost at the same time last year due to incentives for eco-friendly vehicles, the Japanese new car market drops by 8% year-on-year over the first half of 2013 to 2,711,648 registrations. This is split between 1,470,304 regular local vehicles (-14%), 1,070,616 Kei cars (-2%) and 170,728 imports (+13%).
Atop the models ranking the battle rages between the Toyota Prius down 27% to 132,472 sales over the period and its little sister the Toyota Aqua up 3% to 132,336. In fact, the Aqua led the year-to-date ranking in 2013 up until May, with the Prius reclaiming the lead in-extremis in June. At this stage I would pick the Prius as the favorite for the year-end lead as the Aqua seems to have completed the traditional honeymoon period every all-new model experiences in Japan, falling by 29% year-on-year in May and 19% in June. But the race is still wide open.
The Nissan Note brilliantly jumps onto the Japanese podium thanks to the new generation launched last August, with sales up 142% to 82,466 while the Honda Fit falls heavily at -46% to #4. The Toyota Crown impresses, up 181% and 21 spots to #6 at 48,458 units while the new model hasn’t lifted Toyota Corolla sales that much: +8% and still #8.
Other great performers in the regular cars Top 30 include the Subaru Impreza up 41% and 12 ranks to #11, the Toyota Spade, by far the best-performing all-new regular car (and only one in the Top 30) at #12, the Subaru Forester up 242% to #18, Mazda CX-5 up 27% and 10 spots to #19, Toyota Porte up 278% to #23 thanks to the new model and the Mazda Atenza multiplying its sales by 10 with the new generation to #29 and 12,820 units.
In the Kei car category, the models ranking sees a complete reshuffle compared to one year ago. The Honda N-Box brilliantly takes the lead thanks to sales up 14% to 118,303, however it is followed closely by the Daihatsu Move up 33% to 114,101 units and #1 for the last 3 consecutive months. The Suzuki Wagon R remains third at 104,569 sales while the Daihatsu Mira, #1 at the same time last year, is down 37% and 3 spots to #4.
There are no less than 4 all-new Kei cars inside the Top 20. The best performer is the quirky Honda N-One landing directly at #6 with 66,131 units. Then we find the Suzuki Spacia at #8 and 34,987 sales, the Nissan Dayz at #15 with 12,247 units and the Mazda Flair at #17 and 11,112 sales.
In the imports category, the VW Golf keeps the lead, but just: it is down 35% year-on-year to 8,395 sales vs. 8,298 (+1%) for the Mini. The BMW 3 Series is up 5 spots and 93% to #3 at 7,783 units, the VW Up! lands directly at a fantastic 5th place with 6,898 sales, the VW Beetle and Mercedes A-Class pop up at #7 and #8 respectively whereas they weren’t inside the Top 20 one year ago and the Volvo V40 lands at #11.
In the overall brands ranking, Toyota unsurprisingly maintains its grip on the market but sees its share slide from 30.3% to 28.9%. Honda (-15%) follows while Suzuki (-2%) and Nissan (-5%) both pass Daihatsu (-10%) to rank #3 and #4 respectively. Volkswagen is the top import brand at #9 overall with 32,842 sales and 1.2% share but the big event further down the ranking is Mercedes passing Lexus to become the #1 luxury brand at #11 and 24,339 units (up an impressive 24% year-on-year) vs. 22,890 for Lexus. BMW (+9%) and Audi (+20%) also progress.
Previous post (regular cars): Japan June 2013: Toyota Prius passes Aqua year-to-date
Previous post (kei): Japan Kei cars June 2013: Nissan Dayz/Mitsubishi eK beyond 20,000 sales on 1st month
Previous post (imports): Japan Imports June 2013: Mini and BMW 3 Series on top
6 months 2013 Top 45 models, Top 50 brands and all categories Ranking Tables below.