Japan's new vehicle market continued to decline sharply in July 2020, by almost 14% to 396,346 units from 459,456 units a year earlier, according to registration data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

That followed a 32% decline in the second quarter of the year, as domestic consumers continued to retrench amid rising uncertainty due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Government data confirmed Japan slipped into recession in the first quarter of 2020 with GDP shrinking by 3.4% year on year due to plunging domestic consumption and exports.

Economic activity in the country is estimated to have declined further in the second quarter, by over 20% year on year, as the pandemic strengthened its grip on global markets. 

Vehicle sales in the first seven months of the year declined by close to 19% to 2,604,122 units compared with 3,212,876 units a year earlier. Passenger car sales fell by just over 19% to 2,156,753 units in this period while truck sales were down by just over 18% at 440,818 units and bus sales declined by 23% to 6,551 units. 

Toyota was one of the best-performing major brands in the market year to date, with sales falling by just 14.6% to 810,024 units; while second-placed Honda reported a 22.1% decline to 365,867 units; Suzuki 352,295 units (18.3%); Daihatsu 329,100 (17.8%); Nissan 277,072 units (23.9%); and Mazda 102,790 units (15.0%).

Sales of imported vehicles fell by 17.5% to 18,541 units in July and by over 22% to 133,171 units in the first seven months of the year.