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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.

Japan March 2016 – brands:

15Mitsubishi Fuso6,3081.0%-1%1512,0820.8%0%1515
19UD Trucks1,3000.2%-14%192,7110.2%-13%1919
26Land Rover4740.1%9%279800.1%17%2626
29Alfa Romeo2690.0%-14%295410.0%-24%2927
44Aston Martin180.0%-5%43480.0%37%4343

Japan March 2016 – regular cars:

PosModelMar-16/15Feb2016 YTD20162015
1Toyota Prius31,43469%171,48012
2Toyota Aqua23,314-23%250,04421
3Honda Fit15,545-9%332,84933
4Nissan Note13,684-2%431,81945
5Toyota Sienta12,890557%531,012510
6Toyota Corolla11,31722%923,75974
7Toyota Voxy10,76313%625,15866
8Toyota Vitz9,814-7%1319,688127
9Honda Vezel8,969-16%821,58889
10Nissan X-Trail8,4477%721,351914
11Mazda Demio7,601-24%1120,242108
12Nissan Serena7,565-8%1019,8721111
13Honda StepWGN7,173240%1217,4491317
14Toyota Noah6,715-15%1614,3811416
15Toyota Esquire6,1794%1712,8951712
16Toyota Crown5,3103%2612,0822020
17Toyota Passo5,272-24%1911,4692118
18Honda Shuttle5,243May-151413,1821524
19Suzuki Solio5,0738%1812,9071623
20Toyota Vellfire5,005-39%2512,1861915
21Toyota Harrier4,822-37%2111,4282213
22Honda Odyssey4,75760%208,673n/an/a
23Honda Freed4,632-29%2310,9872322
24Subaru Impreza4,470-38%1512,6541821
25Toyota Alphard4,024-31%299,7542519
26Subaru Forester3,8581%2710,06824n/a
27Toyota Spade3,093-31%n/a6,440n/a28
28Mazda Axela3,090-18%n/a7,202n/a30
29Mazda CX-52,9917%228,561n/a29
30Suzuki Swift2,802-49%n/a6,984n/a25

Japan March 2016 – kei cars:

PosModelMar-16/2015Feb2016 YTD20162015
1Honda N-BOX25,542-17%257,19311
2Daihatsu Tanto21,565-18%154,74222
3Nissan Dayz19,326-18%348,91733
4Suzuki Alto13,945-12%432,62945
5Suzuki WagonR12,757-13%927,32566
6Honda N-WGN12,737-27%527,89357
7Daihatsu Cast10,643Sep-15725,531813
8Suzuki Hustler10,236-17%626,52278
9Daihatsu Move10,024-49%825,24994
10Daihatsu Mira9,772-30%1023,324109
11Suzuki Spacia7,974-26%1122,3681110
12Mitsubishi eK7,761-15%1215,6441212
13Daihatsu Wake3,661-62%139,4351311
14Toyota Pixis2,410-2%155,4501416
15Honda N-ONE2,298-44%145,4211514
16Suzuki Every Wagon1,84916%164,7661718
17Suzuki Jimny1,625-16%183,8241819
18Subaru Stella1,551-48%193,7051917
19Honda S6601,3186837%203,2602020
20Nissan Moco1,243-57%174,9721615
21Mazda Flair1,078-25%232,6172121
22Mazda Flair Wagon1,064-22%222,6122222
23Mazda Flair Crossover925-23%212,4722326
24Subaru Pleo907-12%242,1242425
25Mazda Carol859-33%252,1192523
26Daihatsu Atrai Wagon597-8%271,4072728
27Daihatsu Copen589-38%261,6712624
28Honda Vamos4878%281,1962829
29Nissan NV100 Clipper Rio319-23%298882930
30Suzuki MR Wagon237-79%307423027
31Mazda Scrum Wagon198-33%314733131
32Mitsubishi Town Box86-50%322183232
33Subaru Dias Wagon7218%331773333
34Mitsubishi i-MiEV10-83%34803434

Japan Q1 2016 – foreign models:

PosModelQ1 2016/152015Q4Q3Q2Q1
1VW Golf6,836-18%12111
3Mercedes C-Class4,459-37%33232
4BMW 3 Series3,143-7%54545
5VW Polo2,923-33%48464
6BMW 2 Series2,51634%758118
7Mercedes CLA-Class2,492105%9661019
8Audi A31,915-38%610756
9BMW 1 Series1,9065%879711
10Mercedes A-Class1,802-0%119131212
11Volvo 40 Series1,7639%101110815
12Mercedes E-Class1,732-5%121512910
13Mercedes GLC-Class1,654Feb-16
14VW Passat1,561n/a191315n/a
15Volvo 60 Series1,52710%1412141717
16BMW X11,504n/an/a
17Mercedes S-Class1,294-28%1314111413
18smart forfour1,209Jan-16
19Mercedes GLA-Class1,126-46%152020137
20Fiat 500/500C1,1252%1817171620

Sources: JADA, JMVA, JAIA. Many tanks to Stephen Bloom for helping create this article.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Interesting article. The chance to have a peek into the car trade world is great and everyone can learn important things and make a better choice, whether for car selling or car buying. The information shared above only shows how versatile the car market is and how much it can change in only one year.

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