Minicar Popularity Fuels New Car Sales Rise in JapanEconomy
New car sales in Japan rose 0.7% in 2018. According to data released by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association, a total of 5,272,067 new cars were purchased.
Overall new vehicle sales were bolstered by the 4.4% rise in the sale of minicars to 1,924,124 units. This second straight year-on-year increase compensated for the 1.3% decline for the main vehicle market (tōrokusha), which had total sales of 3,347,943 units. In 2018, minicars accounted for 36.5% of all new vehicles sold.
Sales of minicars had slumped in 2016 to around 1.72 million vehicles in the wake of the April 2014 consumption tax hike and the April 2015 minicar tax increase, but have strongly recovered over the past two years. Minicar models with spacious interiors like the Honda N-Box and Suzuki Spacia are popular among families with young children. Another factor that seems to be driving demand for minicars is the narrowing performance gap separating them from ordinary vehicles thanks to more advanced driver-assistance systems.
By brand, Toyota was down 4.9% year-on-year to 1,508,647 units. The benefits it enjoyed from sales of new vehicles like the Prius seem to have run their course. Subaru also saw sales drop in 2018, connected to its recent inspections scandal. Sales for Nissan rose 4.2% from 2017, bouncing back from scaled-back production that year following its own problem with improper inspections.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)