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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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