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Japan March 2019: Suzuki (+3.7%), Volvo (+11.3%) stay afloat in market down 4%

Suzuki is the only one of the Big 5 carmakers to post a gain in March.

As the end of the Japanese Financial Year, March volumes are always 35 to 40% higher than any other month in Japan and therefore is of capital importance. This year Japan new vehicle sales recede 4% year-on-year 640.811 units, enough to tilt the YTD tally into negative territory at -0.8% to 1.528.213. 3 of the Top 4 brands outpace the market though, with leader Toyota (-0.6%) almost immobile to 28% share, exactly double that of #2 Honda (-4.5%) slightly underperforming. Suzuki (+3.7%) posts the only gain in the Top 8 just as Daihatsu is stable. Below, Mazda (-18.3%), Nissan (-15%), Subaru (-9.8%) and Mitsubishi (-8%) all end the Financial Year in tatters. Isuzu (+12.6%) is the largest gainer in the Top 22 at #9. Mercedes (-9.4%) suffers but remains the most popular foreign carmaker above BMW (-4.8%), Mini (-7.9%), Audi (-35.4%) and Volvo (+11.3%), the Swedish brand being the only foreign gainer near the top. Below, Smart (+428%), Aston Martin (+156%), Bentley (+153.3%), Jaguar (+43.6%), McLaren (+42.6%), Abarth (+33.3%), Lamborghini (+25.4%), Alfa Romeo (+22.1%), Ferrari (+19.6%) and Renault (+10.2%) impress but remain tiny: at 0.2% share or below.

Toyota Corolla sales gain 21% year-on-year.

In the regular cars charts, the Nissan Note (-14%) celebrates 3 consecutive pole positions and 10 monthly wins since the new generation launched almost two years ago, all this despite a hefty loss just as the Toyota Aqua (+7.4%) posts a sturdy gain and the Toyota Prius (-0.9%) seems to have stopped the haemorrhage. The Toyota Corolla (+21%), Vitz (+8.4%) and Roomy (+3.3%) are the only other gainers in a depleted Top 12. Further down, the Suzuki Jimny Sierra (+1238.4%), Mitsubishi Delica D5 (+181.9%), Subaru Forester (+132.2%) and Toyota Crown (+112.6%) all see the effects of new generations while the Daihatsu Boon (+85.9%) and Thor (+56%) impress. In the kei car aisle, the Honda N-BOX (-1.6%), Suzuki Spacia (+0.7%) and Daihatsu Tanto (+17.4%) are the 3 best-selling vehicles in the country for the month, all outselling the Nissan Note. The kei version of the Suzuki Jimny (+171.7%), Mazda Flair Crossover (+30.2%), Daihatsu Copen (+22.4%), Mazda Scrum Wagon (+16.3%) and Nissan NV100 Clipper Rio (+11.7%) are the only other keis posting double-digit gains for the month.

The new XC40 helps lift Volvo deliveries up 11.3% in Japan.

As far as foreign models are concerned, the Mini (-2.9%) remains on top although this is a little unfair as all variants are counted together (Hatch, Countryman and Clubman). Instead, the true winner is the Mercedes C-Class (+18.6%), toppling a VW Golf (-25.3%) potentially cannibalised by a growing Polo (+57.2%) and the Tiguan (+45.5%) up to #10. The Volvo V40/XC40 (+16.1%) holds onto an excellent 6th spot, just as the Mercedes GLC (+31.2%) shoots up 8 spots on Q4 2018 to #7. The Volvo S/V/XC60 (+35.7%) is in excellent shape at #11 ahead of the BMW X2 making its very first appearance in a Japanese Quarterly ranking at #12. The Fiat 500 makes a return at #15 while the now discontinued VW Beetle (+14%) gets a last spike at #19.

Previous month: Japan February 2019: Kei cars trust Top 4 again, Toyota Corolla shines in market up 1.2%

One year ago: Japan March 2018: Mitsubishi (+21.7%), Lexus (+38.1%) defy market down 3.5%

Full March 2019 Top 55 All-brands, Top 50 regular cars, Top 32 All kei cars and Q1 2019 Top 20 foreign models below.

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