By on December 3, 2012

Some forecasters expected Japan’s appetite for new cars to drop by more than 20 percent in the last quarter after government incentives expired in September. So far, it is not happening. Sales of new cars, trucks and buses declined a minuscule 0.4 percent in November. Elsewhere you may read that the market was down 3.3 percent, but they are not giving you the whole story. Sales of mini vehicles, or kei cars actually were up in November, pulling the market nearly completely out of minus territory.

Regular vehicle sales Japan November 2012
Manufacturer Nov ’12 Nov ’11 YoY YTD ’12 YTD ’11 YoY
Daihatsu 244 296 -17.6% 2,780 2,874 -3.3%
Hino 3,550 3,068 15.7% 38,467 30,792 24.9%
Honda 19,549 32,777 -40.4% 405,018 347,587 16.5%
Isuzu 4,556 4,185 8.9% 54,400 37,802 43.9%
Lexus 3,162 3,795 -16.7% 40,690 40,123 1.4%
Mazda 10,632 10,879 -2.3% 156,464 135,236 15.7%
Mitsubishi 5,232 4,550 15.0% 56,889 51,505 10.5%
Mitsubishi Fuso 2,706 3,159 -14.3% 31,830 24,448 30.2%
Nissan 34,649 39,470 -12.2% 475,415 411,811 15.4%
Subaru 11,887 4,841 145.5% 96,778 66,959 44.5%
Suzuki 5,277 6,080 -13.2% 83,259 71,007 17.3%
Toyota 122,021 120,305 1.4% 1,511,410 1,056,105 43.1%
UD Trucks 773 955 -19.1% 8,366 7,593 10.2%
Other 19,736 17,876 10.4% 214,079 183,272 16.8%
Total 243,974 252,236 -3.3% 3,175,845 2,467,114 28.7%
Data courtesy Japan Automobile Dealers Association

Sales of regular vehicles were down  3.3 percent to 243,974 units, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association JADA said today. Honda’s sales dropped an alarming 40.4 percent, those of Nissan are down 12.2 percent.  Don’t be too alarmed about Honda, they made it more than up elsewhere …

Mini vehicle sales Japan November 2012
Manufacturer Nov ’12 Nov ’11 YoY YTD ’12 YTD ’11 YoY
Suzuki 45,271 45,243 0.1% 549,571 438,237 25.4%
Daihatsu 46,898 52,361 -10.4% 632,695 497,827 27.1%
Mitsubishi 5,219 6,906 -24.4% 75,132 85,945 -12.6%
Subaru 3,232 9,322 -65.3% 66,767 76,289 -12.5%
Honda 30,601 8,150 275.5% 295,389 114,486 158.0%
Mazda 3,965 3,951 0.4% 49,510 42,557 16.3%
Nissan 11,835 15,336 -22.8% 145,395 134,399 8.2%
Toyota 2,931 2,059 42.4% 40,857 4,120 891.7%
Other 16 3 433.3% 57 40 42.5%
Total 149,968 143,331 4.6% 1,855,373 1,393,900 33.1%
Data courtesy Japan Mini Vehicles Association

Data provided by the Japan Mini Vehicle Association paint a different picture for kei cars. Honda tore into the kei car market with a number of (slightly) different NBOXes. Honda’s kei sales were up a huge 275.5 percent and helped lift the market for mini vehicles by 4.6 percent in November.

Total vehicle sales Japan November 2012
Manufacturer Nov ’12 Nov ’11 YoY YTD ’12 YTD ’11 YoY
Daihatsu 47,142 52,657 -10.5% 635,475 500,701 26.9%
Hino 3,550 3,068 15.7% 38,467 30,792 24.9%
Honda 50,150 40,927 22.5% 700,407 462,073 51.6%
Isuzu 4,556 4,185 8.9% 54,400 37,802 43.9%
Lexus 3,162 3,795 -16.7% 40,690 40,123 1.4%
Mazda 14,597 14,830 -1.6% 205,974 177,793 15.9%
Mitsubishi 10,451 11,456 -8.8% 132,021 137,450 -3.9%
Mitsubishi Fuso 2,706 3,159 -14.3% 31,830 24,448 30.2%
Nissan 46,484 54,806 -15.2% 620,810 546,210 13.7%
Subaru 15,119 14,163 6.7% 163,545 143,248 14.2%
Suzuki 50,548 51,323 -1.5% 632,830 509,244 24.3%
Toyota 124,952 122,364 2.1% 1,552,267 1,060,225 46.4%
UD Trucks 773 955 -19.1% 8,366 7,593 10.2%
Other 19,752 17,879 10.5% 214,136 183,312 16.8%
Total 393,942 395,567 -0.4% 5,031,218 3,861,014 30.3%

Consolidated, it looks like this. The market is down only slightly. Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga said in a recent interview with The Nikkei [sub] that he thinks “sales declines in response to the end of the subsidy program should be limited.” And indeed, that appears to be the case.

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5 Comments on “Japan In November 2012: Kei Cars Save The Month...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Re. the main photo: Either the man in the picture is quite small in stature, or Kei cars aren’t as small as I’ve imagined. It looks really tall! And rather big. From the picture, it looks like a slightly narrower Dodge Nitro or something.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s a much, much narrower Dodge Nitro, probably with Honda Fit running gear. Even if he isn’t small, that car is barely two shoulder-breadths wide.

      I like it.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-from-the-backseat-king-of-the-kei-cars-the-honda-nbox-japanese-spec/

        Bertel reviewed the Honda NBox. It is less than 59 inches wide, but it is very tall. The engine is only about 660 cc, or less than half the size of any offered in a Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      I believe he’s 6’2″. That’s Martin Köller. Look how that Honda fits into the lane. Tons of room around it. We could do with this class in most of our overcrowded cities.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That thing looks very sturdy, and like the doors would go THONKKKK.


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