Japan’s new vehicle market expanded 17% to 340,342 units in August 2023 after declining 9% to 290,042 units a year earlier, according to registration data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The market began to recover from Covid lockdowns in the second half of last year, with improving semiconductor supplies enabling vehicle manufacturers to lift output and reduce order backlogs.

The economy expanded by a stronger than expected 6% year on year in the second quarter, driven mainly by a rebound in exports after last year’s supply chain disruptions, following 2.7% growth in the first quarter. Overall household spending in the country had reduced significantly in recent months, however, as consumers struggled with fast rising prices pointing to probable market weakness later in the year.

In the first eight months of 2023, the market expanded 16% to 3,169,994 units after declining 14% to 2,725,555 in the same period of last year, with passenger vehicle sales rising 19% to 2,649,200 units while truck sales were just 6% higher at 515,564 units. Sales of buses and coaches surged 48% to 5,203 units as demand continued to recover following the Covid lockdowns.

Toyota sales increased 31% to 1,072,300 units year to date following severe supply chain shortages last year while Suzuki sales rose 13% to 432,292 units; Daihatsu 385,831 (+9%); Honda 370,223 (-2%); Nissan 325,134 (+7%); and Mazda 127,090 (+20%).

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