Japan’s new vehicle market expanded by 5.3% to 365,631 units in June 2021 from weak year-earlier sales of 347,372 units, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).

Domestic sentiment has improved significantly in recent months, despite measures introduced by the government to contain a recent surge in COVID-19 infections, with household spending, industrial output and exports growing strongly.

GDP growth was expected to have rebounded strongly in the second quarter after contacting by 1.3% quarter-on-quarter in January-March.

In the first six months of 2021, vehicle sales increased by 11.6% to 2,464,586 units from 2,207,776 units in the same period of last year, with passenger car sales rising by 11.9% to 2,043,365 units and truck sales up by 11.0% at 417,276 units driven particularly by strong demand for mini-vehicles.

The market for buses and coaches continued to struggle with reduced demand for travel due to the pandemic, however, with sales plunging by over 32% to 3,945 units.

Toyota was one of the best-performing brands year-to-date, with sales rising by 14.6% to 785,125 units, while Suzuki saw its sales surge by 18.0% to 346,34 units, Daihatsu 319,033 (+17.2%), Honda 315,813 (+0.8%), Nissan 251,973 (+6.3%) and Mazda 90,478 (+1.3%).

Sales of imported vehicles have outperformed so far this year, with registrations rising 19.1% to 136,526 units in the first half.