Deep Data Dive: Tsunami Washes Kei Cars To The Top Of Japanese Charts

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
deep data dive tsunami washes kei cars to the top of japanese charts

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami didn’t just destroy more than 410,000 cars in Japan. It also totally mangled the list of top selling cars in Japan. After a two year absence, two minivehicles took the top spot of the chart. Suzuki’s WagonR mini vehicle was the best-selling new car in May, Daihatsu’s Move mini vehicle took second. The first regular car was the Honda Fit in the 3rd position. Perennial leader Toyota Prius is in the 6th position, despite an early re-start of production. Full list after the jump ….

The Nikkei [sub] explains the phenomenon thusly: “Mini vehicles have fewer parts than regular passenger cars. The Great East Japan Earthquake’s impact on the production of mini vehicles, due to supply chain disruptions, was therefore relatively minor.”

That’s one explanation. Another is that both the Wagon R and the Move are inexpensive movers of people and stuff, something that came in handy after the catastrophe. Mini vehicles or kei cars are a Japanese oddity: Less than 0.66 liter displacement, 64 hp max. Low tax. Cheap insurance.

A further oddity is that minivehicles and regular cars have their own statistics, even their own dealer associations. The Japan Automobile Dealers Association said that sales of new regular vehicles fell 37.8 percent year-on-year in May. The Japan Mini Vehicles Association reported a decline of 25.4 percent for the same period.

What follows is a mash-up of both statistics.

Japan’s best selling cars, May 2011

RankMakerNameMayGrowth YoYType1SuzukiWagon R11,186-22.7%Mini2DaihatsuMove9,4026.6%Mini3HondaFit9,354-21.3%Regular4DaihatsuTanto9,267-31.4%Mini5ToyotaVitz7,867-14.5%Regular6ToyotaPrius6,491-76.1%Regular7NissanSerena5,766-5.6%Regular8SuzukiAlto5,204-39.2%Mini9HondaLife4,88711.0%Mini10DaihatsuMira4,777-37.2%Mini11HondaFreed4,6052.1%Regular12NissanMoco4,12421.4%Mini13ToyotaRactis3,73711.1%Regular14ToyotaCorolla3,307-58.6%Regular15NissanMarch3,27117.7%Regular16SuzukiParrott3,266-42.8%Mini17NissanRoox3,148-32.8%Mini18HondaStep Wagon3,107-46.6%Regular19NissanNotes2,904-40.3%Regular20MazdaDemio2,817-42.6%Regular21SuzukiSolio2,678No dataRegular22NissanCube2,611-32.8%Regular23ToyotaPasso2,544-58.2%Regular24ToyotaVoxy2,278-61.1%Regular25SuzukiMr Wagon2,222110.2%Mini26SuzukiSwift2,170-34.1%Regular27MitsubishieK-Wagon2,097-6.9%Mini28SubaruImpreza2,04753.1%Regular29ToyotaWish2,032-49.5%Regular30MazdaAZ-Wagon1,923-4.7%Mini31ToyotaNoah1,839-60.8%Regular32NissanJuke1,780No dataRegular33NissanTiida1,766-54.7%Regular34NissanX-TRAIL1,601-24.5%Regular35ToyotaEstima1,526-49.3%Regular36SuzukiEvery Wagon1,49315.9%Mini37ToyotaCrown1,460-48.5%Regular38MazdaPremacy1,390-24.7%Regular39MitsubishiDelica1,390No dataRegular40SubaruLegacy1,389-25.8%Regular41DaihatsuEsse1,348-40.9%Mini42SubaruStella1,320-24.7%Mini43ToyotaMark X1,263-51.0%Regular44ToyotaVellfire1,227-68.9%Regular45HondaInsight1,152-63.5%Regular

With the help of Frau Schmitto-san, the statistics of both organizations and the Japanese names of the cars have been translated into English and combined on a best effort basis. The data are provided “as is” with no express or implied warranty for accuracy. Frau Schmitto-san has done her utmost to ensure that the material and calculations displayed are accurate. However, errors may occur. TTAC, its employees and agents accept no responsibility or liability for any incorrect material. With a little nihongo and Excel, you can create your own.

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