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Japan First Half 2019: Toyota Prius back in charge, kei cars up in shy market (+0.8%)

The Toyota Prius is back in charge of the regular car sales charts.

The Japanese new car market manages a very timid uptick over the First Half of 2019 at +0.8% to 2.753.419 registrations. The Top 4 brands outpace the market to tighten their hold on the charts: Toyota (+4.4%) advances one percentage point of market share from 28% to 29%, Honda (+4.6%) is up to 14.6%, Suzuki (+1.1%) remains at 13.7% and Daihatsu (+3%) improves to 12.5%. On the other hand, Nissan (-6.9%), Mazda (-13.4%) and Subaru (-9.5%) are all in difficulty so far in 2019, with Mitsubishi (+3.2%), Isuzu (+14.8%) and Hino (+0.1%) closing the Top 10 in positive fashion. 4 of the Top 5 best-selling foreign carmakers are down, led by Mercedes (-2.3%), Volkswagen (-7.6%), BMW (+0.01%), Mini (-1.5%) and Audi (-19.5%). Bentley (+119%), McLaren (+64.7%), Aston Martin (+25.2%), Smart (+24.7%), Jaguar (+22.9%), DS (+21.3%), Land Rover (+17.3%), Lamborghini (+13.8%), Alfa Romeo (+10.8%), Jeep (+9%) and Volvo (+8.2%) are among the best performers further down.

In the regular cars charts, thanks to its late 2018 facelift the Toyota Prius (+9.8%) reclaims the top spot it last held over the Full Year 2017, leapfrogging past the Nissan Note (-6.6%) and Toyota Aqua (-8.8%) just as the Nissan Serna (-4.3%) completes a Top 4 entirely in decline. However the rest of the Top 10 is in positive, with the Toyota Corolla (+20.8%) and Sienta (+12.1%) taking advantage of new models to post double-digit gains and the  Toyota Vitz (+6.5% and Honda Freed (+3.6%) also solid. Below, the Subaru Forester (+106.1%), Toyota Crown (+77%), Mitsubishi Delica D5 (+64.9%), Daihatsu Thor (+32%) and Toyota Alphard (+18.6%) all score spectacular gains and the Toyota RAV4 (#29) is the best-selling new launch – peaking at #7 in May – above the Honda CR-V (#39), Lexus UX250H (#41), ES300H (#42) and Honda Insight (#48).

But it’s in the kei cars aisle that we find the true best-selling models in Japan, in fact 5 of the Top 6 best-sellers overall belong to this category and no less than 4 of them outsell the Toyota Prius over the period. The Honda N-BOX (+2.9%) reigns supreme, improving further on record 2018 volumes. It is followed by the Suzuki Spacia (+12.6%), Daihatsu Tanto (+14%) and Nissan Dayz (+11.2%) all in outstanding shape. The Suzuki Jimny (+155.3%), Honda S660 (+18.8%) and Daihatsu Mira (+10.6%) also make themselves noticed further down the ranking. The Mini lineup (-1.5%) remains the best-selling foreign ‘model’ while the Mercedes C-Class (+31.6%) overtakes the VW Golf (-17.4%) for #2, with the VW Polo (-2.5%) and BMW 3 Series (+5.9%) rounding up the Top 10. The Mercedes A-Class (+45.6%) storms into the Top 10, up 8 spots year-on-year to #7, while the VW Tiguan lands at #12 and the BMW X2 at #13 and the Fiat 500 (#17) and VW Beetle (#18) reappear in the Top 20.

Previous post: Japan June 2019: Toyota Prius 3peats at #1 regular car, Nissan Dayz up 41% to #2 overall

One year ago: Japan First Half 2018: Nissan Note set for historical annual win

Full H1 2019 Top 60 All-brands, Top 50 regular cars, Top 33 All-kei cars and Top 20 foreign cars vs. Full H1 2018 figures below.

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