* Now updated with the Top 62 brands, Top 50 regular cars, Top 35 kei cars and Top 20 foreigners *
After stretching its legs last year with a 9.2% surge, the Japanese new vehicle market falls back to earth in 2018, dropping 1.8% or 50.000 units to 2.732.478. Two carmakers are responsible for this decline: Toyota down 9.2% or 78.000 units to 28% share vs. 30.3% over the same period a year ago and Subaru down 20.2% or 20.000 sales to 2.8% share vs. 3.5% in 2018. The market bar these two brands is actually up 2.6%… Honda (+2.4%) and Suzuki (+4.4%) post solid gains to close out the podium like last year, and in fact the entire Top 10 is unchanged on H1 2017. Mitsubishi (+16.2%) is by far the best performing Top 10 carmaker ahead of Mazda (+7.5%) and Hino (+5.4%) with Daihatsu (+1.7%) also in positive and ending the period just 883 sales below Nissan (-2.3%) while Isuzu (-11.7%) struggles. Just outside the Top 10, Lexus (+49.5%) delivers the best performance of any Japanese brand this year so far.
Mercedes (-0.6%) remains the most popular foreign carmaker in Japan but drops one spot on a year ago to #12, passed by Lexus in the premium order. Volkswagen (+1.9%) and BMW (-7.8%) also both step down one spot because of Lexus with BMW outselling Volkswagen in June. Audi (+4.4%), Mini (+2.4%), Volvo (+10.8%), Jeep (+13.2%) and Peugeot (+32.7%) follow, all outpacing the market, while further down McLaren (+65.7%), Alfa Romeo (+62.2%), Chevrolet (+57.8%), Lotus (+51.1%), Citroen (+32.2%), Land Rover (+21.7%), Cadillac (+15.7%) and Lamborghini (+14.3%) are among the best performers.
Model-wise, it’s a full-on earthquake we’re witnessing, with the Nissan Note slated to snap its very first annual win despite a 13% year-on-year drop to 73.380 sales. If held until the end of the year, the Note would be the first non-Toyota to top the annual regular car charts in a decade and only the second non-Toyota nameplate to rank #1 in 50 years alongside the Honda Fit in 2002 and 2008. As a reminder, the Toyota Corolla led from 1969 to 2001 and 2003 to 2007, the Prius from 2009 to 2012, 2016 and 2017 and the Aqua from 2013 to 2015 – you can consult 1969-2017 Historical Japanese car sales here (keep in mind we are talking regular cars here, not including kei cars). Paradoxically, the Note only ranked #1 in Japan from January to March this year, with the Toyota Aqua taking the relay since thanks to a mid-life facelift. Meanwhile the Prius tumbles down 30% to #3, losing its main point of difference as its hybrid technology is now available in all other Toyota nameplates.
The next three best-sellers all gain volume year-on-year and progress in the ranking: they are the Nissan Serena (+3%), Honda Fit (+4%) and Toyota Voxy (+8%) with the Toyota Roomy (+15%) posting the largest gain in the Top 10. In contrast, the Toyota C-HR (-48%), Honda Freed (-28%), Toyota Vitz (-18%) and Toyota Sienta (-16%) all fall heavily. Further down, notice the Toyota Camry (+1114%), Lexus NX300H (+133%), Nissan Leaf (+103%), Toyota Land Cruiser W (+69%), Honda StepWGN (+45%), Daihatsu Thor (+34%), Mazda CX-3 (+31%), Toyota Noah (+15%) and Toyota Alphard (+13%) all posting robust improvements. No less than six brand new nameplates manage to climb into the Top 50, led by the Mazda CX-8 (#28) and Suzuki Xbee (#29) with the Honda Civic (#37), Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (#42), Lexus NX300 (#48) and Lexus LS500H (#50) in tow.
In the kei cars ranking, the Honda N-BOX (+20%) cements its leadership thanks to a very solid gain and is followed this year by the Suzuki Spacia soaring 38% and three spots over the same period a year ago to #2. The Daihatsu Move (+3%) overtakes both the Daihatsu Tanto (-11%) and Nissan Dayz (-6%) to land on the third step of the poiudm. Below, only the Daihatsu Mira (+10%) and Suzuki Wagon R (+8%) post positive results with the remainder of the Top 10 in negative, notably the Suzuki Hustler (-22%). Further down, the Daihatsu Atrai Wagon (+89%), Mazda Flair Wagon (+72%), Honda N-ONE (+46%), Toyota Pixis (+31%) and Subaru Pleo (+19%) make themselves noticed.
The Mini (+2%) remains the best-selling foreign model in Japan over the period, mainly because there’s no split between different models. The VW Golf catches up at +7% and ends the Semester less than 650 sales off the Mini. The Mercedes C-Class (+7%) and E-Class (-13%) camp on their positions despite diverging behaviours, while the Volvo V40 (+11%) is the only nameplate in positive inside the Top 10, with the BMW 3 Series (-28%), Audi A3 (-16%), VW Polo (-13%) and BMW 2 Series (-12%) hit the hardest. Further down, the Mercedes GLC (+27%) and Volvo S/V60 (+14%) shine, while we welcome the Audi Q2 (#18) and Jeep Wrangler (#19) for the first time in a Japanese half-year Top 20.
Full H1 2018 Top 62 brands, Top 50 regular cars, Top 35 kei cars and Top 20 foreigners vs. Full H1 2017 figures below.