New car registrations in Japan continued their statistical return to earth in February, as total registrations across all segments dropped 14.7 percent (full table here.) We predicted this a month ago, and it didn’t take exceptional clairvoyance to do so. The month compares with a February 2014 when Japanese customers rushed to car dealers in order to beat Abe’s sales tax rise in April. We will see a similar drop again in March, and a little more of that in April, due to registrations of made-to-order cars bought before the March 31 deadline.
Unavoidably, the big names in Japan all lost sales in the double digits, led by Nissan which was down 21.5 percent, followed by Honda (- 16.6 percent) and Toyota (-14.7 percent). Regular cars (-14.2 percent) and mini vehicles, or “kei” cars (-15.4 percent) were affected similarly. Kei cars maintain their roughly 40% share of the Japanese market. Imports were a bit more resilient, and down only 12 percent.