The March 11 earthquake and tsunami didn’t just destroy more than 410,000 cars in Japan. It also totally mangled the list of top selling cars in Japan. After a two year absence, two mini-vehicles took the top spot of the chart. Suzuki’s WagonR mini vehicle was the best-selling new car in May, Daihatsu’s Move mini vehicle took second. The first regular car was the Honda Fit in the 3rd position. Perennial leader Toyota Prius is in the 6th position, despite an early re-start of production. Full list after the jump ….
The Nikkei explains the phenomenon thusly: “Mini vehicles have fewer parts than regular passenger cars. The Great East Japan Earthquake’s impact on the production of mini vehicles, due to supply chain disruptions, was therefore relatively minor.”
That’s one explanation. Another is that both the Wagon R and the Move are inexpensive movers of people and stuff, something that came in handy after the catastrophe. Mini vehicles or kei cars are a Japanese oddity: Less than 0.66 liter displacement, 64 hp max. Low tax. Cheap insurance.
A further oddity is that mini-vehicles and regular cars have their own statistics, even their own dealer associations. The Japan Automobile Dealers Association said that sales of new regular vehicles fell 37.8 percent year-on-year in May. The Japan Mini Vehicles Association reported a decline of 25.4 percent for the same period.