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January 2017: Japan Electric Car Sales

The Japanese electric vehicle market is comprised almost entirely of Japanese auto manufacturers (unsurprisingly), which makes the market an interesting contrast to free-for-all markets like the US.
The Nissan LEAF has over the past few years more or less dominated the market. Though, the first-generation Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (PHEV) had respectable sales as well — which makes the release of the Toyota Prius Prime (the second-gen PHEV version of the Prius) an important event there, market wise.
We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what the debut numbers for the Prius Prime are in Japan, though, as the most recent figures that we have for the Japanese electric vehicle market are for January 2017 (and the US apparently started receiving the new plug-in before Japan).
Japan’s January sales figures are interesting in their own right, though. Plug-in sales were apparently down around 48% year on year (as compared to January 2016). Altogether, only around 1,800 units were sold — making for a market share of 0.46% (of the total automotive market in the country).
That makes January 2017 the worst January for electric vehicle sales in Japan since back in 2012.
As noted by the EV Sales blog, the source of the data, this “doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how the two local heavyweights are behaving. The 30 kWh-kick effect has waned and the Nissan LEAF, the main driving force of the market, responsible for 78% of the market, has seen its sales slow down, so unless Nissan throws something new onto the table (40 kWh version, Gen 2 Leaf …), sales will continue to drop and the upcoming 2nd generation Toyota Prius PHEV will have the 2017 Best Seller trophy served on a silver platter. To worsen things, the emissions scandal is continuing to hurt Mitsubishi and its Outlander PHEV, with registrations down 76%(!) to 190 units last month.”
Something else to note here is that, as sales of the series hybrid version of the Nissan Note are quite good in Japan, that’s very likely the model that is siphoning some “green car” buyers from the LEAF.
As you can see in the figures posted here, beyond Nissan and Mitsubishi sales, the market is looking pretty dismal — with the remainder of buyers choosing BMW’s or Tesla’s electric offerings. Presumably, no other automakers feel compelled to offer electric vehicles in Japan.