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Japan Full Year 2019: Toyota Prius reclaims lead but Corolla and Raize end on a high in market down -1.5%

Could the Toyota Raize top the 2020 charts?

Discover over 50 years of Japanese Historical Data here.

The Japanese new vehicle market skids down -1.5% year-on-year in 2019 to 5.195.216 units, this annual drop entirely due to a typhoon-induced sales freefall during the last 3 months of the year: -24.2% in October, -12.7% in November and -11% in December. The kei car segment (or keijidosha) is specific to Japan and is composed of mini vehicles commanding lower taxes thanks to reduced size (max 3.3m length and 1.48m width) and engine size (max 660 cc and 63 hp). In 2019 Kei cars resist better than the overall market at -0.7% to 1.910.346 and 36.8% share vs. 36.5% a year ago whereas regular vehicles drop -1.9% to 3.284.870 and 63.2% share vs. 63.5%. Japanese customers continue to buy Japanese in overwhelming numbers, with local carmakers accounting for 94.2% of total 2019 volumes at 4.895.777 (-1.3%) vs. just 5.8% and 299.439 (-3.2%) for foreign brands.

Jeep (+16.8%) scores the largest gain in the Top 30 and places the Wrangler inside the Top 20 foreigners.

Toyota (+2.6%) up from 26.8% to 29.8% share and sister brand Daihatsu (+1.9%) up from 12.3% to 12.7% are the only two carmakers in the Top 8 to manage a market-defying year-on-year volume gain. Subaru (-11.6%), Nissan (-7.9%), Mazda (-7.8%), Honda (-3.4%) and Suzuki (-2.6%) all fall faster than the market while Mitsubishi (-1.1%) contains its drop. Below, Jeep (+16.8%), Lexus (+13.2%), Peugeot (+7.5%), Volvo (+6.8%) and Isuzu (+6.1%) are the only gainers in the remainder of the Top 20 while among smaller brands holding just 0.1% share and under, McLaren (+59%), Lamborghini (+24.9%), DS (+20.7%), Bentley (+20.4%), Citroen (+15.5%), Land Rover (+14.8%) and Ferrari (+13.4%) are among the most dynamic.

The Toyota Prius is back to #1 regular car but hasn’t led since July.

Daihatsu (+0.6%) continues to dominate the kei car market, improving its share to 32.2% while archenemy Suzuki (-2.2%) drops to 30%. Honda (-1.3%) at 19.1% and Nissan (+5.5%) at 10.5% are the only other significant carmaker in this very specific market. Traditionally very weak in the kei car segment (less than 2% share in 2019), Toyota takes its revenge with its regular car lineup, holding a whopping 46% share there vs. 43.9% in 2018. Nissan (-13.8%) remains in 2nd place above Honda (-5.4%), Mazda (-6.7%), Suzuki (-4.5%) and Subaru (-11.9%). Below Isuzu (+6.1%) and Hino (-1.4%) but above Lexus (+13.2%), Mercedes (-1.5%) is the only foreign carmaker to find its way inside the regular vehicles Top 10.

The Toyota Sienta secured its first ever monthly wins in July and August.

The Toyota Prius (+8.8%) reclaims the lead of the regular models ranking off the Nissan Note (-13.1%), singing its 7th annual win at home, all in the past 11 years (first one in 2009). The Toyota Sienta (+17.9%) leaps up two spots to close up the podium above the Toyota Corolla (+16.3%) up 4 ranks on 2018 thanks to a new generation sedan with the Toyota Aqua (-18%) in freefall at #5. This annual order actually hides four very distinct reigns in 2019: leader  in 2018, the Nissan Note followed up with a #1 spot from January to March, passing the relay to the Toyota Prius from April to July, the Toyota Sienta then signed its very first wins in August and September before the Toyota Corolla took control from October onwards. The Toyota Raize launched in November (#4) immediately stepped up to #2 in December only 70 sales below the Corolla, and the two nameplates are now in prime position to fight for the 2020 annual leadership. As far as 2019 newcomers, there are 5 in the Top 5: alongside the Raize (#40), the Toyota RAV4 returns (#16) and Mazda has renamed its 3 (#34) and 2 (#45) but also places the all-new CX-30 at #50.

The Toyota Corolla has been the #1 car since October.

This year the 4 best-selling Kei cars all outsell the Toyota Prius – they were 5 in 2018. The Honda N-BOX (+4.8%) celebrates 5 straight years at #1, its 6th annual win in the past 7 years and 3rd consecutive year as Japan’s best-selling vehicle outright. However the Daihatsu Tanto (+28.4%) surges two spots to #2 and even took the lead in November thanks to a new generation. The Suzuki Spacia (+9.4%) and Nissan Dayz (+11.3%) are also very dynamic just below while the Daihatsu Move (-9.6%) is panting but remains at #5. There are no other gainers in the Top 12, with the Suzuki Jimny (+44.6%), Daihatsu Copen (+20.6%), Subaru Chiffon (+8.3%), Mazda Flair Wagon (+2.8%) and Nissan NV100 Clipper Rio posting the only upticks in the remainder of the Top 30, showing a concentration of kei car sales towards the best-sellers in the segment in 2019.

Daihatsu Tanto sales surge 28.4% in 2019.

Among foreign models, the Mini lineup (-8.4%) remains the most popular for the 4th straight year, however this score is misleading as both the hatch and Countryman models are grouped together and unfortunately no split is available. The VW Golf (-8.4%) and Mercedes C-Class (-6.1%) ensure the podium is unchanged on 2018, but the Mercedes A-Class (+73.2%) storms into the top of the ranking thanks to the new generation, gaining 8 spots to land at #4. The BMW 3 Series (+28%) is up one rank to #6, the Volvo 60-Series (+21.8%) up 6 to #8, the VW Tiguan (+13.3%) also up 6 to #13 and both the Mercedes B-Class (#15) and Jeep Wrangler (#16) make their entrance inside the Top 20 for 2019.

Previous month: Japan November 2019: Toyota Raize lands at #4 in 2nd double-digit market drop (-12.7%)

Previous year (1): Japan 2018: Note first Nissan to ever top the regular car ranking, Honda N-BOX #1 overall, breaks volume record

Previous year (2): Japan 2018: Now with exclusive Top 175 All local models

Two years ago (1): Japan 2017: Honda N-BOX and Toyota Prius on top, Toyota C-HR wins one month

Two years ago (2): Japan 2017: Complete Japanese models data now available

Full Year 2019 Top 60 All-brands, Top 50 regular cars, Top 34 All kei cars and Top 20 foreigners vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

Full December 2019 Top 50 All-brands, Top 8 All kei car brands, Top 20 regular car brands, Top 50 regular cars, Top 32 All kei cars and Q4 2019 Top 20 foreigners below.

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