Japan's new vehicle market expanded by 5.4% to 613,003 units in March 2021 from 581,438 units a year earlier, according to registration data released by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The vehicle market continued to perform positively last month despite the global shortage of semiconductors which continues to hold back vehicle production. Business sentiment improved significantly in the first quarter despite new measures introduced by the government to contain a recent jump in COVID-19 infections.

First quarter vehicle sales increased by over 4.2% to 1,429,743 units, from 1,371,726 in the same period of last year, with passenger car sales rising by almost 4.2% to 1,196,823 units while truck sales were 5.1% higher at 230,268 units. The market for buses and coaches continued to struggle with reduced demand for travel due to the pandemic, with sales plummeting by over 35% to 2,652 units over the three month period.

Toyota was one of the best performing brands year-to-date with sales rising by 8.0% to 439,862 units while Suzuki enjoyed a 8.7% increase to 203,743 units, Daihatsu 178,141 (+2.7%), Honda 181,842 (-2.8%), Nissan 162,434 (-6.1%) and Mazda 62,803 (-1.2%).

Sales of imported vehicles fell by just under 1% to 68,891 units.