Japan’s January Car Sales Ranking Driven By Hybrids and Kei Cars

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Japan’s January car sales rankings have just been announced — and the effect of the December decision by the government to get behind the EcoCar tax incentive scheme (100k Yen for a hybrid, 70k Yen for a kei car) can be clearly seen.

Every model in the top ten has either a hybrid or kei car driving its sales. Take a look …

Rank Model Maker Number of Vehicles YOY Change
1 Prius Toyota 29108 2.1 times more
2 Fit Honda 21449 44.2% more
3 Mira Daihatsu 19795 3.8 times more
4 Freed Honda 14042 2.7 times more
5 Aqua Toyota 13485 (New model)
6 WagonR Suzuki 12442 11.9% more
7 Move Daihatsu 12384 12.8% less
8 Tanto Daihatsu 11603 8.5% more
9 N Box Honda 9934 (New model)
10 Alto Suzuki 8967 24.9% more

And if you look closely, what else do you see?

Well here’s a few things that just jump right out at me…

First of all the amazing start to Toyota Aqua sales. This is a new hybrid model that’s the only compact hatchback on the list. It comes out of nowhere with sales starting at the end of last year, and already it has clawed its way up to 5th position. I think Toyota has a hit on their hands here. Can they make enough to keep up with demand when the rest of the world gets their hands on it later this year as the Prius c?

This is a car that has the amazing ability to get even better mileage than a Prius, at an even lower price. Toyota has discovered that if the price is right and the car is frugal enough, at least in Japan size is not so much of an issue.

Sticking with Toyota for my second realization, take a look at how much of the top 10 territory is occupied either by Toyota or Daihatsu models. That’s right – half of the top ten best sellers are made by one or other of these manufactures. Except they are not really two separate entities are they? Daihatsu is a Toyota group company.

Now that’s what I call market dominance.

Finally there are two manufactures who are very conspicuous by their absence – Mazda and Nissan.

Mazda execs must be kicking themselves for coming up with as elegant a technological solution as the Skyactiv engine, when it is neither a hybrid or a kei car engineĀ  — in other words it doesn’t give consumers the Ecocar incentive that hybrids and kei cars have. This clearly shows how the Japanese government has distorted the market by picking technologies to reward, rather than looking at underlying fuel frugality.

Nissan, on the other hand, must be crossing their fingers and living in hope of a distant future where all cars are electric, and their early transition to EVs has paid off in market dominance.

Let’s tune in again next month to see how they are all faring.

Source: Tokyo Shinbun (Japanese)

leave a response, trackback from your own site
Leave a Reply