April 2014

Passenger Car Market Trends in Japan: Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2013 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) is pleased to release the results of the survey it conducted in fiscal year 2013 (ending March 31, 2014) 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 aimed to track the extent of public awareness of next-generation (new energy-powered) vehicles and advanced vehicle safety technologies, and the attitudes of senior citizens in Japan to motor vehicle use.

I.  Main Survey: Principal Findings

1.  General trends in the passenger car market 

  • Passenger car ownership among responding households stood at 82%, with higher ownerships rates outside of major cities and lower ownership rates among single-person and senior households.
  • Vehicle ownership correlated more closely with necessity than convenience.
  • The survey recorded a continued growth in mini-sized passenger car ownership and in multiple passenger car ownership that included minicar ownership.
  • Economic factors ranked high among respondents’ reasons for non-ownership.  This trend was more pronounced among single-person households and households with children younger than high-school age.

2.  Demographic trends in ownership and trends in use

  • The survey revealed growing passenger car ownership among seniors and women.
  • “Shopping and errands” was the dominant category of passenger car use.  Roughly 60% of respondents indicated that maintenance costs pose a financial burden. 

3.  Specific purchasing trends

  • Survey results confirmed a continued downsizing trend, i.e. a shift to smaller models for both first-time purchases and vehicle replacement purchases.
  • Longer periods of vehicle ownership prior to carrying out a replacement purchase remained an ongoing trend.

4.  Projected ownership and purchasing trends

  • 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 vehicle purchases, respondents indicated a continued desire to downsize.

II.  Adjunct “Special Topics” Survey: Principal Findings

1.  Awareness of next-generation vehicles

  • The survey registered a wide awareness of the expanding use of hybrid cars and the fact that other new-energy vehicles have yet to make a significant market entry.

2.  Awareness of advanced vehicle safety technologies

  • The onboard installation of advanced active safety (accident avoidance) technologies was particularly appealing to respondents in the 60-years-and-older segment.

3.  Impact of consumption tax rate hikes on vehicle purchasing

  • About 70% of the respondents indicated that increases in the national consumption tax rate would impact their decision to purchase a car.

4.  Trends among senior respondents 

  • The majority of senior respondents to the survey were well-educated, in good health, and the owners of comparatively substantial assets.
  • Senior respondents expressed an undiminished desire to continue driving and making vehicle replacement purchases.
  • Respondents in this demographic who lived in the greater Tokyo area, were in good health, and had assets of \10 million or more indicated they drive primarily for leisure purposes.
  • Respondents in this category also noted personal declines in physical capacities such as “eyesight,” “attention span,” and “reaction speed,” as well as their desire for automotive technologies to be introduced to compensate for these driver deficiencies.

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

(See attached file: 0410trends_in_Passenger_car.pdf)