Japan's automotive industry appears to be turning a corner after posting its worst sales for 38 years in 2009.
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Japan's automotive industry appears to be turning a corner after posting its worst sales for 38 years in 2009. New vehicle sales, including mini vehicles, rose by 24% year-on-year (y-o-y) in March to 674,494 units, which took total sales for the financial year ending March 31 to 3.182mn, up 10% y-o-y. However, there is little cause for excitement in the industry, as this marks the fifth-lowest sales on record and compares with a particularly low base from the year before when the economic downturn was at its worst. Incentives have also played a major part in inflating vehicle sales. Calendar year sales for 2009 actually show a decline of 9.3% y-o-y, as tax breaks on cars purchases were not introduced until April, with subsidies on low-emission vehicles added in June, which led to a sales increase in the latter half of the year.
BMI does not believe that the level of growth attained in FY10 is sustainable, given that it was so heavily driven by incentives. The Japanese market is highly saturated in nature and the withdrawal of incentives will only compound the stagnation. Given that our forecasts are based on calendar year results, our projection actually appears positive, as we expect an increase in sales in 2010, albeit less than 1%. However, for the remainder of the five-year forecast period we believe it will be hard for vehicle sales to surpass average annual growth of 2%.
Market saturation keeps Japan in fourth place in BMI's business environment ratings for the autos sector in Asia Pacific with an overall rating of 61.1 from a possible 100. While the country scores well in terms of its country risk, with low levels of corruption and a sound legal framework that have bumped up the market's overall score, the auto industry is nearing full capacity, and this consequently reduces production growth potential, while the high level of vehicle ownership restricts possible sales growth. Labour costs are also high, which adds to the cost of expanding production.
March sales also suggested that Toyota Motor has not suffered significantly from its recall campaign on its domestic market. Toyota retained its lead of the market with sales excluding mini vehicles up by 53% y-o-y in the month, while sales for the financial year rose 15.3%, to 1.534mn units. Moreover, question marks over the quality of the Prius hybrid were outweighed by the 'green car' incentives, making the hybrid model the country's best-selling car for the 12 months ending in March. Suzuki Motor's WagonR small car was ousted into second place for the first time in five years, while Honda Motor's Fit small car was third. The first serious foreign competition in the alternative fuel segment can be expected from General Motors Company, which intends to launch its Chevrolet Volt within the next two years.
Table of Content
Japan Autos Industry SWOT
Japan Political SWOT
Japan Economic SWOT
Asia Pacific Regional Overview
Asian Autos Sector Becomes The Sum Of Its Parts
Business Environment Ratings
Table: Business Environment Ratings -- Autos Industry Asia Pacific
Industry Forecast Scenario
Production And Sales
Japan Autos Production And Sales - Historical Data And Forecasts
Japan Commercial Vehicles Sales - Historical Data And Forecasts (CBUs)
Japan Motorcycle Segment - Historical Data And Forecasts (CBUs)
Japan Autos Trade - Historical Data And Forecasts
Japan Autos Sector, Economic Contribution - Historical Data And Forecasts [needs to be 2007-2014]
Macroeconomic Forecast Scenario
Japan - Economic Activity
Japan - Vehicle Production By Company (CBUs)
Japan - Vehicle Sales By Company (CBUs)
Japan - Top Automotive Suppliers (US$mn)
Japan - Commercial Vehicle Sales (CBUs)
Japan - Commercial Vehicle Production (CBUs)
Key Commercial Players
Company Profiles Geely Strategy Supports BMI View
South Korea - Imported Luxury Vehicle Sales
Pak Suzuki Motor
BMI Forecast Modelling
How We Generate Our Industry Forecasts
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