Today is a big day. It’s April Fools Day. March numbers of U.S. auto sales will come out (we’ll get to that later.) Also, it is the beginning of one of the many Japanese oddities, called the fiscal year. The Japanese fiscal year spans from April 1 in the current year to March 31 in the next. So as far as the Japanese fiscal year is concerned, today is New Year! And it’s time to look back at Japanese auto sales. For the first time in what seemed to be an eternity, we can look back at Japanese auto sales without tears in our eyes. Or with gnashing teeth, depending on which side we’re on: Sales are up! Honto?
Domestic sales of new vehicles rose 10 percent on the year to 3.18 million units in fiscal 2009, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association told The Nikkei [sub].
The rise is being blamed on government subsidies and tax breaks for environment-friendly cars. This is the first time in seven years that Japanese sales were up. It is also the first double-digit increase in two decades. Sales of standard-size passenger cars climbed 22.7 percent to 1.34 million units, subcompact cars increased 9.1 percent to 1.55 million units. The preliminary data excludes minivehicles, which are counted and reported separately.
The fiscal year data received a solid push from March sales. As indicated by previously reported output numbers, March has been an exceptionally good month in Japan. New vehicle sales rose 37.2 percent year on year to 443,298 units in March, the eighth straight month of increase, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association told The Nikkei [sub]. Again, no minivehicles in those data, we’ll report them when we get them.
Update: Minivehicle sales are in. Not quite as boisterous as regular cars, but the recently laggardly segment of kei cars was up also in March, says The Nikkei [sub]. Minivehicle sales rose 3.7 percent year on year to 231,196 units in March, the Japan Mini Vehicles Association reports.