Hybrids Now 16% of Market in Japan as Prius Wins Annual Sales Crown Again

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 6th, 2012

Let’s get this Prius story out the way first so we can get to the really interesting stuff: Toyota’s Prius is number one for something or other …  again. This time, it’s retained it’s crown as Japan’s best-selling car in the 2011 financial year (April 2011 through end of March 2012) making it a third straight win in a row.

OK, nuff said. Now let’s get behind the headlines to where the real juicy stuff is:

First up, there is the fact that hybrid cars in Japan now account for 16% of all new car sales. To put that in perspective, hybrids make up just 2.2% of US new car sales *. That’s over 7 times as many hybrids sold in Japan, proportionately!

Of course, a tail wind of government incentives helps out some, but the gap between these figures demonstrates the huge gulf in driving culture and conditions between Japan and the US. (Compare the mix of vehicles in the Japan new car sales chart below with the Top 20 Vehicles chart for the US from the WSJ and you’ll see what I mean.)

And here’s something else you won’t find in the US — kei cars. While America loves big, Japan goes for small. Look at the rankings and you will spot that half of the top ten are kei vehicles.

And out of these keis  one in particular is really motoring: Check out the Daihatsu Mira in the stats below. Sure, it’s in 4th place, but the acceleration …  up 99.5% over last year? Not even a Veyron can go that quick.

Must be their much-vaunted Mira e:S hybrid-level fuel economy that costs just 800,000 Yen that’s moving that model up. The Mira could easily take out the WagonR 3rd in 2012 if the current trend continues.

Here’s the top 10 new car models sold in Japan in the 2011 financial year:

  1. Toyota Prius = 310,484 units (9.6% increase)
  2. Honda Fit = 234,432 units (23.8% increase)
  3. Suzuki WagonR = 174,225 units (1.7% decrease)
  4. Daihatsu Mira = 171,301 units (99.5% increase)
  5. Daihatsu Move = 144,398 units (4.7% increase)
  6. Daihtasu Tanto = 139,332 units (17.5% decrease)
  7. Toyota Vitz = 125,663 units (1.9% decrease)
  8. Nissan Serena = 93,755 units (31.1% increase)
  9. Suzuki Alto = 92,992 units (2% decrease)
  10. Honda Freed = 90,414 units (0.7% decrease)

* This 2.2% figure was calculated by comparing the figure for hybrid car sales from HybridCars.com (below) with the 2011 total new car sales from Fox (below).

Sources: Asahi (Japanese) Fox News, HybridCar.com

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