Japan's new vehicle market continued to decline in September 2020, by over 14% to 469,705 units from strong year earlier sales of 548,209 units, according to registration data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The domestic vehicle market has been in decline for a year, with sales affected by a general sales tax hike in the fourth quarter of 2019, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic this year – with consumers retrenching further amid rising economic uncertainty. GDP plunged by almost 28% year on year in the second quarter of 2020, as domestic consumption and exports plummeted, after shrinking by 3.4% in the first quarter.

Vehicle sales in the first nine months of the year declined by just over 18% to 3,400,266 units compared with 4,149,685 units a year earlier, with third quarter sales falling by 14.6% to 1,192,490 units after declines of 32% in the second quarter and 10% in the first quarter of the year.

Passenger car sales fell by 18.1% to 2,817,950 units year to date while truck sales were down by 17.6% at 574,546 units and bus sales declined by almost 30% to 7,770 units.

Toyota was one of the best performing major brands in the market year to date, with sales falling by just 13% to 1,057,708 units, while second placed Suzuki reported a 13.7% decline to 469,264 units, Honda 468,689 (-21.9%), Daihatsu 428,802 (-17.8%), Nissan 356,960 units (-23.6%) and Mazda 137,327 units (-15.8%).

Sales of imported vehicles fell by 12.7% to 31,564 units in September and by just over 20% to 182,973 units in the first nine months of the year.