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Best-selling car models in Japan 2019

With a sales volume of almost 126 thousand units, Toyota's Prius, a full hybrid electric vehicle, was the best-selling passenger car model within the Japanese automobile market in 2019. The Nissan Note ranked second with sales reaching over 118 thousand units during the same time.

Why Japanese prefer domestic brands

In addition to the best-selling car models being exclusively manufactured by domestic vehicle companies, the most popular automotive brands in the country were also predominantly Japanese. While domestic car makers typically record far higher sales than their overseas-based competition, three German brands slipped into the ranking of leading vehicle manufacturers in Japan, indicating that Japanese consumers appreciate foreign premium brands, yet tend to invest in the vehicle technology of their home market. Foreign car brands are often seen as status symbols among Japanese consumers as the initial outlay as well as maintenance costs of imported vehicles are comparably high.

Japan’s unique auto market: mini cars

Besides a higher price point, there is one other important reason for choosing domestic brands over vehicles produced by foreign car makers: kei cars. The mini-sized vehicles are a rather unique feature of the Japanese automotive landscape. With their minimized exterior, kei cars are not only easier to navigate around the narrow road system of Japan’s metropolitan areas, they also provide an affordable alternative to regular-sized vehicles. Whilst the Prius topped the ranking of best-selling regular-sized passenger cars, Honda sold twice as many units of it’s N-Box during the same year, impressively confirming the prominent role of mini vehicles within the Japanese car market.

Best-selling car models in Japan in 2019, based on sales

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Release date

January 2020



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Values have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Automotive industry in Japan"

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