Japan’s new car hangover continues in March

Japan roads - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Registrations of new cars in Japan dropped a further 11.2 percent in March year-on-year, after sinking 14.7 percent in the month before. This according to consolidated data by Japan’s major industry associations (full table here.) A month ago, we said that the JDM will “drop some more,” and it was an easy call.

Japanese sales tax was lifted in April 2014, and customers rushed to car dealers in the months before to save some money. Compared to these pulled-forward sales, a normal March looks like a disaster. We expect a further decline in April, due to registrations of made-to-order cars bought before the March 31 deadline.

Sales of regular vehicles were down 13.3 percent in March, sales on mini vehicles, or “kei” cars showed more resilience, dropping only 8.3 percent. Despite the sagging yen, imports, down only 7.6 percent, were the least affected. Contradicting closed market propaganda with hard numbers, imports hold a nearly 10 percent share of Japan’s regular vehicle sales.

Among Japan’s top three, Honda was the most affected by the new car hangover. In the first three months of the year, Honda’s sales were down 20 percent, followed by Nissan ( – 18.5 percent) and Toyota (-14 percent).

A full table of March and year-to-date registrations can be found here.