New vehicle sales in Japan declined 5% to 373,599 units in June 2024 from 392,719 units a year earlier, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The vehicle market had been in decline since the end of last year when Daihatsu was ordered to halt all production after an investigation found the company had falsified safety test results over decades. This also affected sales of models shared with other brands including Toyota, Mazda and Subaru. In early May the company was allowed to resume full production, with sales expected to recover in the second half of the year as the companies fulfilled order backlogs.

The Japanese economy shrank by a revised 2.9% year on year in the first quarter of 2024, following a 0.4% decline in the fourth quarter of 2023, reflecting weaker than previously estimated construction sector activity. The economy as a whole was held back by weak domestic consumption and exports, with activity also disrupted by the earthquake on the Noto peninsula in January as well as Daihatsu’s production stoppages.

In the first half of 2024, the vehicle market declined 13% to 2,127,490 units after growing by 17% to 2,450,600 in the same period of last year with passenger vehicle sales declining by 12% to 1,800,077 units while truck sales dropped 19% to 322,205 units. Sales of medium and large buses and coaches continued to grow strongly in this period, by 34% to 5,208 units.

Toyota first half sales fell 23% to 636,569 units with deliveries also affected by a data rigging scandal at an affiliated diesel engine supplier. Daihatsu sales plunged 61% to 120,734 units year to date (YTD) while Mazda sales were down 31% at 68,661 units.

Companies not affected by the recent Toyota Group scandals fared much better, including Suzuki with a 14% increase to 375,290 units and Honda with 341,781 (+21%) while Nissan sales were just 2% lower at 245,905 units.

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BYD Auto strengthened its Japanese line last month with the launch of a third model, the Seal EV, to establish a strong earlier presence in the country’s emerging zero emissions vehicle market.

The company had sold 2,500 Atto 3 and Dolphin EVs in the country by the end of June since it opened its first dealership in Yokohama in February 2023.