Thursday, January 23, 2020

Japan December 2019

Resultado de imagem para Toyota Prius PHEV vs nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf wins in depressed market

Some 44.000 units were registered in the Japanese PEV market, down 17% regarding 2018, with the 2019 PEV share ending at 0.8% share, down 0.2% regarding 2018, and this year, the blame is not of a single model, but of all three big players, with the Top 3 models all down over 20% YoY.

Are Japanese just not into plugins? 

It sure seems so, as even the Nissan Leaf, that was reinforced with a 62 kWh version, allowing long range trips, saw its sales dip 23% YoY. 

At least the Nissan EV collected enough units to collect another Best Seller title, its 6th, after winning in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

As the remaining big players, the Toyota Prius PHEV kept its runner-up spot and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV won again the Bronze medal. 

Below the Big Three domestic players, the only other maker with a significant share is BMW, with 10%.

But next year, the German maker will have Tesla as strong candidate to steal its Best Selling Foreigner status, as the California-based has already become the Best Selling Foreigner in Q4, thanks to the landing of the Tesla Model 3.

Looking at Fuel Cells, 673 units were registered, down 2% YoY, making 0,01% of the overall market. Worryingly, it was the third consecutive drop for FCEVs, from the 2016 peak, with 1.055 units, to the current 673 units.

Will the 2nd Generation Toyota Mirai change things?

In 2020, expect the market to resume the growth path, with the Honda e and Mazda MX-30 hopefully stirring things up, while the Toyota RAV4 PHEV should surely jump into the podium. 

The first full year of the Tesla Model 3 should also help the sales tally, although this market is usually very closed to foreign models.


  1. José, you are speaking about the Model 3 as it was the best foreigner in Q4, do you have some numbers to share with us? Thanks.

  2. Maarten VinkhuyzenJanuary 23, 2020

    The Japanese like electric driving as the success of the Nissan Note e-drive shows. That is not the problem.
    Why don't they by plug in vehicles?

    Anybody with good idea?

    1. "e-drive" is just a silly marketing name for a plug-less serial hybrid. The sales of plug-less hybrids generally have very little correlation with sales of EVs...

    2. In my opinion it's cultural.

      While I would never claim to be an expert on Japanese culture, having lived in Japan for a while and having studied the language for years, I dare say I have a bit more insight than the average person. So here's my take:

      The thing you need to understand about the Japanese society is, it's remarkably conservative. This may be surprising to you given how technologically advanced they are, but it's simply the case (in many aspects, anyway). Conformity, social hierarchy and following the chain of command is everything. This is nicely expressed by the Japanese idiom "Migi ni narae", lit. "line up next to the one on your right", the one on your right being your superior. In other words, shut up and fall in line. One of the ugly consequences of this tendency is the phenomenon of deciding the truth by committee. If the top of the pyramid decides that something is the case, or that certain action should be taken, the rest of the hierarchy (be it a company, an entire industry, or the society at large) will follow. Arguments, and even objective observations that are contrary to what has been decreed will tend to be rejected without consideration.

      This is exactly what happened to plug-ins in Japan. Some time ago, somewhere in the Japanese industrial-political elite, it was decided that hydrogen is the future, not batteries. You can clearly see this in the statements of top Japanese auto execs, even today in the age of total Tesla domination. It was decreed that batteries are not viable, so the society will follow - regardless of what the rest of the global market does, or what technological innovations come around. The automakers won't make serious effort to produce them, the government won't subsidize them, local governments won't mandate charging infrastructure, and people won't buy them.

      I don't know who made the decision, but I'm guessing top execs from the auto industry and possibly others such as the fossil fuel industry, their board members/share holders, relevant politicians etc. Carlos Ghosn is not Japanese, so he was able to lead Nissan against this wave, which I believe is why we have the LEAF.

      This is of course somewhat exaggerated. I did that deliberately to get the point across more easily. But this is more or less how things tend to work in Japan. It's also why I'm extremely worried about Japan. I'm rather fond of the country, its culture and its people. The Japanese economy is already in a peculiar situation. Their automotive industry is a crucial part of their economy, if it becomes irrelevant on the global market due to not having switched to EVs in time, the whole country could essentially go bankrupt. I really hope this doesn't happen, but with current development it doesn't look good.

    3. Thank you for this insight. Japanese culture is often described this way -- but for us outsiders, it's impossible to tell how much it's still really present in today's society... Good to hear from someone who actually experienced it first-hand.

      This conservative approach worked very well as long as the car industry was slow-moving and predictable, which is likely why Japanese cars did so well in the past -- but now that Tesla completely changed the game, it's working against them...

  3. Dear Jose,

    Tesla sold in 2019 : 1199 model S/X/3 across Japan

    Out of the total tesla model 3 accounted for about 1000 cars

    Notable months :

    September : 292
    October : 234
    November : 108
    December : 247

    Please see below article to help you better understand JAIA statistics:

  4. Aren't Honda e and Mazda MX-30 for Europe only?...

  5. Madan RajanJanuary 24, 2020

    Despite launch of 62 KWh - 400 km range Leaf in addition to existing 40 KWh, its sale went down 20%. How is this possible unless there is a conspiracy.
    Indeed the arrest of Mr. Carlos Ghosn and subsequent takeover of saikawa is what derailed Leaf completely.
    And Toyotas lack of interest in plugins is well known.
    Lets hope Tesla Model-3 boosts the sales.

    And the much hyped FCEVs could sell only 673 units. Japanese are not willing to move beyond hybrids.

    1. Leaf sales always spiked in the first full year of sales of a new version, and slumped afterwards -- with 2018 seeing the peak for the 40 kWh version, and presumably 2020 for the 62 kWh one. (Though the fact that the 62 kWh one is significantly more expensive, might actually temper enthusiasm considerably -- so not sure we will see much of a spike at all for this one...)

  6. Another market were few data is shown, thus the analysis results very inaccurate.

    From the published data, 2019 carmaker standings are:

    1st Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with 25075 vehicles
    2nd Toyota with 9569 vehicles
    3rd BMW Group with 2844 vehicles