April 2016

Passenger Car Market Trends in Japan: Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2015 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) is pleased to release the results of the survey it conducted in fiscal year 2015 (ending March 31, 2016) on passenger car use in Japan.  Targeting households nationwide (including single-person households), JAMA conducts this survey in odd-numbered years to determine passenger car ownership, use, and purchasing intention trends, and thereby provide a basis for future demand projections.

An adjunct “special topics” survey was also conducted in order to track the extent of public awareness of advanced alternative-energy vehicles, advanced onboard safety technologies, and next-generation vehicle technology, as well as the attitudes of younger people in Japan to passenger car ownership and use.

I. Main Survey: Principal Findings

1.  General trends in the passenger car market

  • Passenger car ownership among responding households stood at 80%, with continued higher ownership rates outside of major urban areas and low ownership rates among single persons and the elderly.
  • In terms of evaluating vehicle ownership as a necessity or a convenience, “necessity” prevailed among respondents in the greater Tokyo area and in provincial cities, whereas “convenience” prevailed among respondents in suburban and rural areas.
  • Continued growth was seen in mini-sized passenger car ownership; in multiple passenger car ownership that included minicar ownership; and in the general trend to downsize.
  • Economic factors ranked high among respondents’ reasons for non-ownership of a car.  Among the lower age groups, the intent to purchase a car was somewhat high.

2.  Demographic trends in ownership and trends in use purposes

  • The rate of passenger car ownership was stable among senior respondents, but showed a continued increase among female respondents (who accounted for almost half of all the “principal drivers” who responded to this survey).
  • “Shopping and errands” remained the leading purpose of passenger car use.  Some 50% of respondents indicated that maintenance costs pose a financial burden. 

3.  Purchasing trends

  • Survey results confirmed a continued downsizing trend, i.e., a shift to smaller models for both first-time and replacement passenger car purchases.
  • The trend of longer periods of ownership prior to making a replacement purchase remained unchanged.  The average period of ownership prior to replacement was 7.5 years, with an ownership period in excess of 10 years prior to replacement being reported by 25% of respondents.

4.  Projected ownership and purchasing trends

  • As in the previous passenger car survey, respondents expressed their intention to reduce the number of units owned and extend the period of current vehicle ownership before making a replacement purchase.
  • For future purchases, respondents indicated a continued desire to downsize.  The purchase of a “next-generation” alternative-energy vehicle appealed to 30% of the survey’s respondents.

II. Adjunct Special Topics Survey: Principal Findings

1.  Awareness of advanced alternative-energy vehicles

  • Although over 60% of survey respondents affirmed their awareness of hybrid and electric vehicles, growth in respondents’ awareness of other types of alternative-energy vehicles was sluggish.

2.  Awareness of advanced onboard safety technologies

  • In-vehicle active safety technologies were found to appeal to a high percentage of respondents, and particularly to respondents aged 60 or older.

3.  Awareness of next-generation vehicle technology

  • Around 40% of respondents indicated an interest in self-driving cars.
  • Just under 50% of respondents affirmed their awareness of ultra-compact cars, with slightly over 20% expressing their intent to purchase or use such vehicles.
  • Functions reportedly desired in “connected cars” included “Voice-activated destination and news searches,” “Real-time road congestion updates,” and “Road assistance services.”

4.  Trends among younger respondents (non-owners of vehicles)

  • About 30% of younger (i.e., under 30 years of age) respondents expressed interest in cars, while another 30% indicated no interest at all.
  • Just over 40% of this group noted their intent to purchase a car, while more than 50% said they have no such intention.
  • Although respondents in this age segment recognized the convenience-related merits of cars, they also expressed strong concerns with demerits linked to perceived financial burdens.
  • Respondents in this age segment showed a positive approach to saving and sound spending habits.


Complete survey results are posted online, in Japanese only, at http://www.jama.or.jp/lib/invest_analysis/four-wheeled.html.

(See attached file:http://www.jama.or.jp/lib/invest_analysis/pdf/2015PassengerCars.pdf)