Japan In February 2012: Market In Full Bloom

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

When Toyota announced an ambitious sales plan for 2012, and the intention to raise sales in Japan by 36 percent, a common reaction was: “Excuse me?”

In February 2011, sales of passenger vehicles excluding minivehicles had been down 14.3 percent. Sales in Japan had been down for most of the year, as a result of cut subsidies. When smaller inducements came back in fall, sales were up again. We are comparing with a low base. As matters are coming back to normal we better get used to a stretch of double digit gains.

Compared to the low base, Toyota’s plan is entirely doable. So far, the market complies and Toyota is on target.

February 2012 Sales Japan, Excluding Minivehicles

ManufacturerFeb’12Feb’11YoYYTD’12YTD’11ChangeDaihatsu2872860.3%486555-12.4%Hino3,0942,60918.6%5,4524,64117.5%Honda50,44034,38746.7%94,70962,18752.3%Isuzu4,6573,16447.2%8,1015,30952.6%Lexus3,5543,4732.3%6,7126,09110.2%Mazda14,11513,3815.5%26,97724,6009.7%Mitsubishi5,6554,28532.0%10,4048,00929.9%Mitsubishi Fuso2,6381,88440.0%4,6463,26342.4%Nissan55,67944,21225.9%95,32973,43429.8%Subaru7,6067,4062.7%13,52312,29710.0%Suzuki7,6137,632-0.2%13,98414,052-0.5%Toyota158,877115,00038.2%283,510199,72641.9%UD Trucks69060015.0%1,2451,01722.4%Other18,30814,31527.9%31,40224,60727.6%Total333,213252,63431.9%596,480439,78835.6%

In February, Japan’s domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses excluding minivehicles rose 31.9 percent from a year earlier to 333,213 vehicles, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association says. The market is up for the sixth consecutive month.

February 2012 Sales Japan, Minivehicles


Sales of minivehicles were up 27 percent to 186,413 units in February, data of the Japan Mini Vehicles Association shows. The share of minivehicles was 36 percent in February.

February 2012 Sales Japan, All Vehicles

ManufacturerFeb’12Feb’11YoYMS Feb’12MS Feb’11Daihatsu64,25651,22325.4%12.4%12.8%Hino3,0942,60918.6%0.6%0.7%Honda77,15548,74058.3%14.8%12.1%Isuzu4,6573,16447.2%0.9%0.8%Lexus3,5543,4732.3%0.7%0.9%Mazda19,36217,57210.2%3.7%4.4%Mitsubishi14,53013,7665.5%2.8%3.4%Mitsubishi Fuso2,6381,88440.0%0.5%0.5%Nissan72,11960,37919.4%13.9%15.0%Subaru17,17815,59310.2%3.3%3.9%Suzuki59,63152,97112.6%11.5%13.2%Toyota162,451115,00041.3%31.3%28.7%UD Trucks69060015.0%0.1%0.1%Other18,31114,31827.9%3.5%3.6%Total519,626401,29229.5%

Overall, the market is up 29.5 percent. Toyota and Honda are gaining, Nissan and Suzuki are losing market share.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Mike978 Mike978 on Mar 02, 2012

    Bertel - I was one of those wondering how Toyota would increase by 36% in Japan during 2012. Thanks for the explanation of starting from a low base (a bit like Chrysler is doing). Toyota (and Honda) did out perform the market in Japan. But they both under-performed the growing market in the US in February. So a mixed bag.

  • Philip I love seeing these stories regarding concepts that I have vague memories of from collector magazines, books, etc (usually by the esteemed Richard Langworth who I credit for most of my car history knowledge!!!). On a tangent here, I remember reading Lee Iacocca's autobiography in the late 1980s, and being impressed, though on a second reading, my older and self realized why Henry Ford II must have found him irritating. He took credit for and boasted about everything successful being his alone, and sidestepped anything that was unsuccessful. Although a very interesting about some of the history of the US car industry from the 1950s through the 1980s, one needs to remind oneself of the subjective recounting in this book. Iacocca mentioned Henry II's motto "Never complain; never explain" which is basically the M.O. of the Royal Family, so few heard his side of the story. I first began to question Iacocca's rationale when he calls himself "The Father of the Mustang". He even said how so many people have taken credit for the Mustang that he would hate to be seen in public with the mother. To me, much of the Mustang's success needs to be credited to the DESIGNER Joe Oros. If the car did not have that iconic appearance, it wouldn't have become an icon. Of course accounting (making it affordable), marketing (identifying and understanding the car's market) and engineering (building a car from a Falcon base to meet the cost and marketing goals) were also instrumental, as well as Iacocca's leadership....but truth be told, I don't give him much credit at all. If he did it all, it would have looked as dowdy as a 1980s K-car. He simply did not grasp car style and design like a Bill Mitchell or John Delorean at GM. Hell, in the same book he claims credit for the Brougham era four-door Thunderbird with landau bars (ugh) and putting a "Rolls-Royce grille" on the Continental Mark III. Interesting ideas, but made the cars look chintzy, old-fashioned and pretentious. Dean Martin found them cool as "Matt Helm" in the late 1960s, but he was already well into middle age by then. It's hard not to laugh at these cartoon vehicles.
  • Dwford The real crime is not bringing this EV to the US (along with the Jeep Avenger EV)
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Another Hyunkia'sis? 🙈
  • SCE to AUX "Hyundai told us that perhaps he or she is a performance enthusiast who is EV hesitant."I'm not so sure. If you're 'EV hesitant', you're not going to jump into a $66k performance car for your first EV experience, especially with its compromised range. Unless this car is purchased as a weekend toy, which perhaps Hyundai is describing.Quite the opposite, I think this car is for a 2nd-time EV buyer (like me*) who understands what they're getting into. Even the Model 3 Performance is a less overt track star.*But since I have no interest in owning a performance car, this one wouldn't be for me. A heavily-discounted standard Ioniq 5 (or 6) would be fine.Tim - When you say the car is longer and wider, is that achieved with cladding changes, or metal (like the Raptor)?
  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?