* See the Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 40 kei cars and Top 20 foreigners by clicking on the title *
The Japanese new car market is up a robust 5.3% in 2017 to 5.234.166 sales, with imports up 2.1% to 351.020 units, of these 306.088 being foreign nameplates (+3.7%). After Mitsubishi/Nissan in 2016, local sales have been rocked by another scandal this year: inspection irregularities affecting Nissan from October onwards and Subaru from November. Brand leader Toyota trails the market slightly with a 3.9% gain but manages to maintain itself above 30% share. The Top 11 brands are unchanged on 2016 but show a whole spectrum of /16 evolutions. Honda (+2.5%) loses share but remains #2 ahead of Suzuki (+6.9%) and Daihatsu (+7.5%) both outpacing the market. Despite the inspection scandals, Nissan (+10.6%) and Subaru (+13.5%) post the only double-digit gains in the Top 20. Mitsubishi (+6.9%) and Hino (+7.1%) improve their share whereas Mazda (+4.1%), Isuzu (-0.2%) and most strikingly Lexus (-12.6%) under-perform.
Mercedes (+1.2%) is once again the most popular foreign carmaker in Japan and the only one ranking inside the overall Top 10. BMW (+3.9%) and Volkswagen (+3.8%) both gain one rank to #12 and #13 respectively, both taking advantage of Lexus’ freefall. Audi (-0.6%) disappoints and goes backwards but doesn’t fall on the ladder. It is followed by Mini (+3.6%), Volvo (+8.1%) and Jeep (+7.6%). Outside the overall Top 20, Aston Martin (+72.6%), Citroen (+56.9%), Maserati (+37.9%), Chevrolet (+36.4%), Lamborghini (+24.3%), Renault (+34.3%), Ferrari (+14.3%), Peugeot (+11.3%) and Land Rover (+11%) are among the best performers. At the other end of the scale, Ford (-75.2%) which has discontinued sales in the country, Alpina (-36%), DS (-29.2%), Hyundai (-24.9%) and Chrysler (-24.7%) are the hardest hit.
Over in the cars ranking, the Toyota Prius posts a second consecutive year in pole position and 5th annual win in total despite a steep 35% decline to just above 160.000 units. Interestingly, the Prius only topped the monthly sales charts five times this year. Boosted by a new generation and its e-Power variant, the Nissan Note is up 36% to end the year in 2nd place with just under 140.000 sales, that’s a new annual ranking record for the nameplate (previous best: #4 in 2013) but not a volume highest (147.634 in 2013). The Note ranked #1 in Japan in January, March, July and September. The Toyota Aqua retracts 22% and one spot to round up the podium, leading the way both in August and October when it took advantage of the Prius’ weakness.
The main event this year in the thunderous arrival of the Toyota C-HR near the top of the regular cars ranking, landing at #4 with over 115.000 sales for its first full year in market, having been launched in Japan in December 2016. The C-HR even became the very first SUV to top the local monthly sales charts – it did so in April – and is the highest-ever ranking SUV in year-end sales. However, after placing #2 in May and June and #5 in July, it then disappeared from the Top 8 for the remainder of the year… The honeymoon period is well and truly consumed and it will be interesting to see where the nameplate stabilises in 2018. Another newcomer inside the annual Top 5 is the Honda Freed, exactly doubling its sales and up 11 spot on 2016 thanks to a new generation and becoming the brand’s best-selling regular car above the Fit (-7%). The other stars of 2017 are the Toyota Roomy (#11) and Tank (#14) twin tandem, launched in late 2016 and adding up to almost 150.000 sales between the two of them, equivalent to a 2nd spot overall. Notice also the Subaru Impreza up 72% to #13, the Toyota Harrier up 42% to #16, Mazda CX-5 up 106% to #26 and Suzuki Swift up 116% to #27.
The Honda N-BOX is the best-selling kei car for the third consecutive year and the 4th time in the past 5 years thanks to a facelift pulling sales up 17%. The Daihatsu Move is also boosted by a new model up 38% and two spots to #2, overtaking the Daihatsu Tanto (-9%), knocked down to #3. The Nissan Dayz is up 30% but down one rank to #4, the Suzuki Wagon R is lifted up 41% and four spots to #5 by a new generation, the Suzuki Spacia is up 29% to #6 and the Daihatsu Mira up 31% to #7. The rest of the Top 10 endures double-digit declines: -11% for the Suzuki Alto, -13% for the Honda N-WGN and -15% for the Suzuki Hustler. Further down, notice the Mazda Flair up 37% and the Honda Vamos up 33% while the Subaru Chiffon ends its first full year of sales inside the Top 20 at #19.
In the foreign nameplates sales charts, the Mini celebrates two consecutive years in the top spot with sales up 4% year-on-year, however keep in mind this is arguably an unfair comparison set as Mini nameplate sales include all versions: Hatch, Clubman and Countryman. The VW Golf edges up 0.2% in 2nd place while the Mercedes C-Class rounds up the podium like last year but drops 7%. The Mercedes E-Class sees its sales shoot up 68% to #4, followed by the BMW 3 Series (-4%), VW Polo (-14%) and BMW 2 Series (-13%). BMW manages to place an incredible five nameplates in the Top 10 this year: along with the 1 Series at #8 (+5%), it adds the X1 (+29%) and the 5 Series, up from outside the 2016 Top 20 directly to #10. The Mercedes GLC is up 35% to #15 and the GLA breaks into the Top 20.
Full Year 2017 Top 60 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 40 kei cars and Top 20 foreigners vs. Full Year 2016 figures below.
Full December 2017 Top 55 All-brands, Top 30 cars, Top 35 kei cars and Q4 Top 20 foreigners below.