Japan Data

New Vehicle Sales in Japan Drop by 11.5% in 2020

Economy Society Lifestyle

The COVID-19 pandemic hit Japanese vehicle sales hard even as the industry was still trying to recover from the consumption-tax hike in October 2019.

Statistics released by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association show that 4.6 million new cars in total were sold nationwide in 2020. This was a huge drop of 11.5% compared to sales for 2019. The last time sales dropped by more than 10% was after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

Sales in the main vehicle market (tōrokusha) dropped by 12.3% from 2019 to 2,880,527. Minicar sales also fell by 10.1% to 1,718,088, accounting for 37.4% of total new vehicle sales in 2020.

Monthly sales changes compared to the same periods the previous year show a continuous decline for the 12 months following the consumption tax increase in October 2019. Concerns over the spread of COVID-19 meant that since February 2020 customers stayed away from car dealerships. Sales particularly fell over the period when the state of emergency was in place. Those in April were 28.6% down on 2019 and fell further for a year-on-year decrease of 44.9% in May.

Sales rose back into the positive again in October with a year-on-year increase of nearly 30%, bouncing back from reduced sales after the consumption-tax hike the previous year, and also showed increases through November and December. With COVID-19 beginning to spread again though, it is unclear how sales will continue to be affected.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: The new Nissan Kicks had an online launch in June 2020. © Jiji.)

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