May 2017

Trends in Japan’s Standard Truck Market
Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2016 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has released the findings of its standard truck market trends survey carried out in fiscal year 2016 (ending March 31, 2017).

This JAMA survey is conducted once every two years to monitor the status of standard truck ownership, purchases, patterns of use, changes in transport needs and resulting responses, shifts in the distribution environment, and other market-related trends.

The fiscal 2016 survey focused on the perspectives of standard truck owners as well as users of freight carrier services and looked particularly closely at:
- The current status of and outlook for truck driver supply;
- Initiatives to increase safety; and
- Benefits of autonomous driving functions.

Survey results underscored the following salient trends in the areas indicated.

  • Business climate
  • Although there was a slight slowing in the momentum of the freight transport industry compared to the findings of the previous survey conducted in fiscal 2014, survey responses indicated that the business climate remains generally firm against the backdrop of Japan’s economic recovery.

  • Demand for new trucks
  • Growth in demand for new standard trucks as well as in the number of standard trucks in use continued, despite the ongoing decline in Japan’s total freight transport volume. Survey results also indicated a strong interest on the part of individual businesses in fleet expansion, particularly among larger-sized enterprises.

  • Status of truck operations
  • Although average truck-loading and deadheading rates were on a general par with the rates recorded in the fiscal 2014 survey, the number of hours and number of days of actual vehicle operation fell back to the levels tracked in the fiscal 2012 survey.

  • Current status of and outlook for truck driver supply
  • In addition to Japan’s structural labor shortage, revisions in 2007 to its driver licensing system have also continued to impact the supply of drivers for freight transport. Overall, the industry has seen further increases in driver shortages and in the average age of truck drivers. However, five-year forward projections in the latest survey indicated somewhat less concern over such shortages compared to the findings of two years ago, perhaps reflecting hopes for positive impacts from the introduction this March of the new “quasi-middle-category motor vehicle” driver’s license subclass.

  • Initiatives to increase safety
  • Japan’s freight transport industry is promoting the installation in standard trucks of so-called back-eye rear-view monitoring cameras, event data recorders, and other safety support systems and equipment. Survey results revealed a particularly keen desire among users of freight carrier services for the wider utilization of event data recorders.

  • Benefits of autonomous driving functions
  • Reduced accidents and potential solutions to driver shortages were among the higher-ranked benefits of using autonomous driving functions, according to survey responses overall.

More detailed information on the results of this survey is available, in Japanese only, on the JAMA Web site (