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Japan May 2020: Virus stalls sales down -44.9% to lowest since March 2011 earthquake

The Toyota Yaris repeats at #1 in the regular car charts.

After losing -28.6% in April, in May the Japanese new vehicle market truly bares the brunt of the COVID-19 State of Emergency that was only lifted in all regions on May 25, as well as the associated factory closures. Sales are down -44.9% year-on-year to just 218.285 units, the steepest fall and lowest volume in 9 years. This is the deepest market depression in Japan since sales collapsed in the aftermath of the 11 March 2011 earthquake. For reference, new car sales were down -37% in March 2011 to 279.389 units, -47,3% in April 2011 to 185.673 and -33.3% in May 2011 to 200.461. Previous to this event, Japan endured its steepest ever market collapse in May 1974 at – 55% during the oil-supply crunch. The year-to-date tally is now down -19.2% to 1.860.404 units. We have adjusted our 2020 Japan forecast down from 4.4m to 4.3m units, -17% instead of -15%.

Lexus (-8.2%) resists best in the Top 20, with the UX250H at a record #36.

Toyota (-34.2%) once again resists better than its home market, resulting in a significantly inflated market share at 36.5% vs. just 31.2% so far in 2020. Honda (-45.1%) virtually matches the market at #2 but Suzuki (-56.7%) is struggling even though it gains one spot on April to return to the #3 spot it holds year-to-date. Nissan (-44.9%) is also up one to #4, both carmakers leapfrogging past Daihatsu (-56.4%). Lexus (-8.2%) and to a lesser extent Hino (-16.5%) both seem to be relatively unscathed by the COVID-19 crisis, while Mitsubishi Fuso (-30.8%) and Isuzu (-32.3%) contain their losses somewhat but Subaru (-69.8%), Mitsubishi (-65.3%) and Mazda (-50.1%) are hit hard. Mercedes (-40.7%) tops foreign carmakers as usual, distancing BMW (-53.9%), Volkswagen (-57.4%) and Audi (-45.7%). Further down, Ferrari (+88.9%) and Lotus (+33.3%) defy the market slump with stellar progressions, while Ford (-5.6%), Abarth (-7.8%), Porsche (-25.7%), Peugeot (-30.4%) and Volvo (-33.3%) resist somewhat.

Ferrari ignores the COVID-19 crisis and shoots up 88.9% year-on-year.

The new Toyota Yaris repeats at #1 in the regular car ranking and is joined at #2 by another fellow recent launch, the Toyota Raize. The Honda Fit (+10.8%) is up year-on-year thanks to a new generation but down one spot on last month to #3, a ranking it also holds YTD. The Toyota Corolla remains at #4 and is still #1 so far in 2020. In fact after placing 10 nameplates in the Top 12 last month, Toyota has 6 models in the Top 7: add the Alphard (+10.6%), Sienta (-42.7%) and Roomy (-52%). The Toyota Prius (-68.2%) and Nissan Note (-56.9%) endure the harshest declines in the Top 10. The Daihatsu Rocky (#20), Mazda2 (#21), Mazda CX-30 (#31) and Mazda3 (#33) are the other recent launches making it into the Top 50. Lexus justifies its exceptional hold by placing a record 6 nameplates in the May Top 50: the UX250H (-13.8%) up to a record #36, the NX300H (+119.4%) breaking into the Top 40 for the first time at #39, the RX450H (+93.2%), RX300 (+113.1%), NX300 (+44.2%) and ES300H (-63.9%).

The Nissan Roox is up to #4 kei car in May.

The kei car charts is completely reshuffled due to particularly weak Daihatsu sales. The Honda N-BOX (-47.6%) sells over 2.5 times more than any vehicle in the segment, with the Daihatsu Mira (-43.4%) and Suzuki Spacia (-67.2%) rounding out the podium. Nissan usually places two vehicles in the Top 5: the newly relaunched Nissan Roox shooting up 7 spots on April to #4 and the Dayz is up five to #5. Suzuki posts strong holds with the Jimny (-13.8%) at #10 and the Hustler (-19.2%) at #6, much less so wth the WagonR (-52.4%) at #7 whereas the Daihatsu Move (-77.4%) and Tanto (-77.3%) are obliterated. Further down, the Mazda Flair Crossover (+46.1%) secures the only year-on-year gain in the category for the month while the Subaru Pleo (-3%) and Honda S660 (-17.3%) resist.

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

One year ago: Japan May 2019: Toyota (+13.4%), Honda (+15.5%) lift market up 6.5%, RAV4 leaps to #1 SUV

Full May 2020 Top 55 All-brands, Top 50 regular cars and Top 35 All kei cars below.

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