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Japan April 2020: Toyota Yaris scores first win in 14 years in market caught up by COVID-19 at -28.6%

The Toyota Yaris is the best-selling regular car in Japan in April.

As we anticipated in our March 2020 update, April is the month the coronavirus pandemic caught up with Japan and its new car market, with the first state of emergency in Japan history declared for 6 provinces on April 7, then expanded to the whole country on April 16 and later extended to the end of May. As a result, April new car sales are down -28.6% year-on-year to 270.393, leading to a year-to-date tally down -13.9% to 1.642.119. We now anticipate a 2020 volume down -15% in Japan.

Toyota (-20%) and Honda (-19.5%) resist markedly better than the market and top the brands ranking with 34.9% and 16.6% share respectively, vs. 30.5% and 14.1% YTD. Daihatsu (-26.8%), Suzuki (-45.2%) and Nissan (-39.2%) complete the Top 5, while Hino (-6.5%), Isuzu (-21.5%), Lexus (-23.3%) and Mazda (-26%) also resist better in the remainder of the Top 10. Further down, DS (+500%), Citroen (+72.2%), Porsche (+64.3%), Lamborghini (+33.3%), Ferrari (+26.8%), Ford (+19.4%), Dodge (+9.7%) and Land Rover (+5.2%) are among brands managing a market-defying gain.

Citroen sales shoot up 72.2% year-on-year in April.

The regular cars ranking sees a brand new leader, only three months after crowning the Toyota Raize for the first time: the Toyota Yaris brilliantly snaps its first pole position for its third month in market, the same timeframe as the Raize. To be fair, the Yaris is actually a rename of the Toyota Vitz, finally following worldwide naming conventions after over two decades of standing apart. The last time the Vitz ranked #1 in Japan was a whopping 14 years ago in August 2006. Why such a long wait? Simply because the Toyota Aqua was tasked wth boosting the carmaker’s hybrid sales in the small car segment from 2012 onwards. Now that the Yaris is available with the much sought-after hybrid engine, sales are sky rocketing again.

The Honda Fit (+32.5%) is extremely solid at #2 again thanks to the new generation, outselling the Toyota Sienta (-0.2%), Corolla (-8.9%), Honda Freed (-4.3%) and Toyota Alphard (-1.4%) all outpacing the market. The new Toyota Raize is down 3 spots on March to #7, distancing its twin the Daihatsu Rocky (#22), Mazda CX-30 (#27), Mazda2 (#28) and Mazda3 (#35). The Honda N-BOX (-27.6%) remains the most popular kei car above the Daihatsu Tanto (-28.7%) and Move (-31.5%) while the Honda N-WGN (+19.1%) posts the largest gain in the Top 20.

Previous month: Japan March 2020: Mazda shines, Corolla, Fit and Yaris surge to top, VW T-Cross instant hit in slimmest market drop in 6 months (-9.3%)

One year ago: Japan April 2019: Toyota Prius back on top, RAV4 lands in market up 3.4%

Full April 2020 Top 55 All-brands, Top 50 regular cars and Top 34 All kei cars below.

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