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Japan Full Year 2016: Toyota Prius returns to #1 spot after 3 year-hiatus

Toyota Prius Japan 2016. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThe Toyota Prius is the best-selling nameplate in Japan in 2016. 

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 foreigners *

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After a harsh 9% decline in 2015, the Japanese new light vehicle market slows down its decline in 2016 at just -1.5% to 4.970.260 units, with kei cars still impacted by the tax hike from last year (down 9% to 1.725.400) and imports up 4.6% to 343.673. Toyota remains master in command of course, even going agains the grain with a 5.5% increase to 1.53m units and a two percentage point gain in market share to 30.7%. Toyota distances seven brands all in decline in a Top 10 unchanged on last year. Honda (-2.7%), Suzuki (-2.1%), Daihatsu (-3.8%) and Subaru (-4%) keep their drop close to the market evolution.

Smart Forfour Japan 2016. Picture courtesy autoc-one.jpThe new Fortwo and Forfour sends Smart sales rocketing up 345.5% in Japan in 2016. 

Reversely, Nissan (-9.3%), Mitsubishi (-16%) handicapped by the fuel economy scandal that led to its purchase by Nissan and Mazda (-17.9%) post worrying declines. Closing out the Top 10 are Isuzu (+8.6%) and Mercedes (+3.4%), the only foreign manufacturer among Japan’s ten favourite brands. Fiat (+11.4%), Mini (+16.4%), Bentley (+17.3%), Peugeot (+25.3%), Jeep (+31.7%), Abarth (+52.2%), Jaguar (+113.7%), Smart (+345.5%) post some of the most spectacular gains among foreign carmakers.

Toyota Sienta Japan 2016. Picture courtesy yahoo.jpThe Toyota Sienta ranks on the 2016 podium in the regular cars ranking.

In the regular models ranking, as we predicted a year ago the Toyota Prius returns to the Japanese pole position thanks to the new generation of the model giving it a welcome 95% boost to just under 250.000 sales, its best annual score since 2013. This ends three consecutive years of domination by the Toyota Aqua, starting to feel its age at -22%. The Toyota Sienta confirms an explosive relaunch in 2015 with a third place overall this year, up 97% and knocking the Honda Fit (-12%) out of the podium. A new generation (with an e-power variant) launched at the end of the year enables the Nissan Note to gain 4% to remain in 5th place overall. It distances the Toyota Voxy (-1%) and Corolla (-22%).

Toyota Roomy Japan 2016. Picture courtesy Keep an eye for the Toyota Roomy in the 2017 annual Top 10…

The Honda Vezel hasn’t yet exhausted its sales potential and turns around a 26% drop in 2015 into a 4% gain this year to #8 overall. One late 2016 launch will challenge this in 2017: the Toyota C-HR, making its first appearance in its home Top 15 in December at #15 with 4.654 sales, just below… the Vezel (4.907). The Nissan Serena (+19%), Toyota Passo (+55%), Honda Freed (+27%), Suzuki Solio (+27%), Honda Odyssey (+95%) and Subaru Forester (+40%) are all boosted by new generations or facelifts, while the Honda Shuttle gains 21% to end its first full year of sales inside the Top 20. Two twin November launches make a big splash already: the Toyota Roomy ranks #8 in December with 6.100 sales while the Tank is #10 with 5.932.

Honda N-BOX Japan 2015. Picture response.jpThe Honda N-BOX remains #1 in the kei car sales charts. Picture 

In the kei car aisle, the Honda N-BOX is the most popular nameplate for the second straight year and the third time in the past 4 years thanks to stable deliveries at 186.367 (+1%) with all other kei cars in the Top 7 losing volume on 2015. The Daihatsu Tanto (-1%), Nissan Dayz (-30%), Daihatsu Move (-15%) and Suzuki Alto (-9%) round up a Top 5 unchanged on last year. The Suzuki Spacia (+2%), Daihatsu Cast (+105% for its first full year on sale), Toyota Pixis (+14%) and Suzuki Every Wagon (+11%) are the only keis in positive in the Top 20. Notice also the Honda S660 up 11% to #19 and the only all-new nameplate of the year, the Subaru Chiffon, landing at #20 in December and #34 for 2016.

Mini 5 doors Japan 2016The Mini dethrones the VW Golf to become the #1 foreigner in Japan. 

We witness a momentous shift in the foreign models ranking: for the first time since at least 13 years, the VW Golf is not leading this ranking: it has been overtaken by the Mini up a flamboyant 16% to 24.548 sales, by far the nameplate’s record annual volume in Japan. Note all variants of the Mini (Hatch, Countryman, Paceman and Clubman) are included in this figure. The Mini distances the VW Golf (-11%), Mercedes C-Class (-16%), BMW 3 Series (-1%) and VW Polo (-11%) with the BMW 2 Series (+21%) and Mercedes CLA (+6%) also bringing some positive vibes atop the ranking. Notice also the Mercedes E-Class up 30%, the VW Passat up 22%, the return of the BMW X1 (#13) and Audi A4 (#14) inside the Top 20 and the arrival of the Mercedes GLC (#18).

Previous post: Japan November 2016: Nissan Note e-powers through to pole position

Previous year (1): Japan Full Year 2015: Toyota Aqua leads, tax hike hurt kei cars

Previous year (2): Japan Full Year 2015: Now with exclusive Top 184 All-local models

Two years ago (1): Japan Full Year 2014: Kei cars surge, Daihatsu Tanto above Toyota Aqua

Two years ago (2): Japan Full Year 2014: Now with exclusive Top 189 All-local models

Full Year 2016 Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars & Top 20 foreigners vs. Full Year 2015 figures below. Full December 2016 rankings also below.

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