The Japanese new vehicle market continued to recover in December 2020, with sales rising by just over 10% to 379,896 units from weak year-earlier sales 344,875 units, according to registration data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The market rebounded strongly in the fourth quarter of 2020, from weak year-earlier sales after the government hiked the general sales tax from 8% to 10% at the beginning of October 2019. The economy has also rebounded strongly, by 23% year-on-year in the third quarter after plunging by 29% in the previous quarter due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Vehicle sales last year declined by 11.5% to 4,598,615 units compared with 5,195,216 units in the previous year, with passenger car and truck sales falling by 11.4% to 3,809,981 units and 11.5% to 779,300 units respectively, while bus and coach sales declined by over 33% to 9,334 units. 

Toyota was one of the best-performing major brands in 2020, with sales falling by just 6% to 1,454,524 units, while second-placed Suzuki reported an almost 9.4% decline to 630,842 units, Honda 619,132 (-14.3%), Daihatsu 592,346 (-10.1%), Nissan 468,544 (-7.5%) and Mazda 177,087 (-13%).

Sales of imported vehicles fell by almost 5% to 28,611 units in December and by over 14% to 256,645 units over the full year.