The new vehicle market in Japan expanded by 6.8% to 384,442 units in January 2021 from 360,103 a year earlier, according to registration data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

This followed a strong rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 as the economy continued to recover from a sharp decline earlier in the year under the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. GDP is estimated to have grown by close to 4% year-on-year in the fourth quarter after a 23% bounce in the third quarter year-on-year, driven by rebounding domestic consumption and exports. 

Passenger car sales increased by 7.7% to 324,546 units last month, while truck sales increased by 2.3% to 59,480 units – reflecting the recent pick-up in business activity including international trade. Sales of buses and coaches continued to struggle with reduced demand for travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with sales plummeting by over 45% to 416 units.

Toyota was the best-performing brand last month, with sales rising by 13.8% to 121,835 units, while Suzuki reported a 9.3% increase to 55,776 units; Daihatsu 50,054 (+5.4%); Honda 47,531 (+1.8%); Nissan 43,222 (+2.3%); and Mazda 15,432 (+1.6%).

Sales of imported vehicles fell by 3.1% to 16,293 units.