Japan Data

Minicars and Hybrids Dominate New Vehicle Sales in Japan


The top 10 selling new cars in Japan each year since 2013 have been minicars and hybrids. A particularly popular model among minicars is the “tall wagon,” a vehicle with a spacious interior.

According to data compiled by vehicle sales industry bodies, the Honda N-Box minicar accounted for 223,449 new vehicles sold in 2017, well ahead of the Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle that placed second with 149,083 new vehicles sold. Of the top 10 best-selling new vehicles, three were hybrid and seven were minicars.

Top Domestic New Car Sales 2015–2017

2017 2016 2015
1 Honda N-Box Toyota Prius Toyota Aqua
2 Toyota Prius Honda N-Box Honda N-Box
3 Daihatsu Move Toyota Aqua Toyota Prius
4 Nissan Dayz Daihatsu Tanto Daihatsu Tanto
5 Daihatsu Tanto Toyota Sienta Nissan Dayz
6 Nissan Note Nissan Note Honda Fit
7 Toyota Aqua Daihatsu Move Toyota Corolla
8 Suzuki Wagon R Nissan Dayz Suzuki Alto
9 Suzuki Spacia Honda Fit Suzuki Wagon R
10 Daihatsu Mira Suzuki Alto Daihatsu Move

Yellow highlighting indicates minicars and green highlighting hybrids.
Compiled by Nippon.com based on data from Japan Automobile Dealers Association and Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association

An analysis of past data shows that hybrid cars first started appearing in the annual top 10 best-selling vehicles in 2009 (Toyota Prius and Honda Insight) and have been ranking highly ever since. From 2013, all the top 10 cars have either been minicars or hybrid vehicles (including mini multi-purpose vehicles as hybrids) indicating clear preferences for low costs and low fuel consumption.

Most of the minicars within the top 10 are the “tall wagon”-style, with an extended vehicle height. Due to standard specifications for the size of minicars, each car manufacturer competes to provide the most spacious and comfortable interiors possible within those specifications. For example, the interior of the N-Box, ranked top in 2017, measures 140 cm high, 135 cm wide, and 224 cm long.

All the companies target families with young children, providing vehicles that have enough space to hold camping equipment, bicycles, and other large items, as well as let children get changed. In addition, they offer sliding rear doors, allowing access even in narrow parking spaces and making it easy to get in and out of the vehicle while holding a child.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Honda N-Box minicar. The latest model comes with a driving safety support system as standard. © Jiji.)

automobile Hybrid