April 2019

Trends in Japan’s Small and Mini-Sized Truck Market
Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2018 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) has released the findings of its small and mini-sized truck market trends survey carried out in fiscal year 2018 (year end: March 31, 2019).

This JAMA survey is conducted once every two years to monitor shifts in the demand structure for small and mini-sized trucks by tracking periods of ownership, purchases, patterns of use, and related trends. The fiscal 2018 survey also sought to determine:
-The extent of awareness of environmental issues and next-generation eco-friendly vehicles;
-The extent of general safety awareness and awareness of advanced safety technologies;
-The status of small-cargo freight transport and issues facing the sector;
-The status of driver shortages and issues involved in resolving them; and
-The ownership outlook for small and mini-sized trucks and vans among farming households.

Notable trends revealed by the results of the survey are summarized below.

  • In-use vehicle trends by vehicle category
    Although the number of small and mini-sized trucks and vans in use in Japan continues to fall, there has been a slowdown in that decline. By vehicle category, despite the declines in the numbers of small and mini-sized trucks and “bonnet” minivans in use, the number of small vans in use has remained virtually unchanged since 2015, while the number of cab-over-engine minivans in use has shown sustained growth. Over the last two years, the number of enterprises in the freight transport and other industries that have expanded their truck and van fleets has exceeded the number of enterprises that have downsized their fleets.
  • Trends in demand by vehicle category
    In part owing to a shift towards shorter vehicle ownership periods, demand for small and mini-sized trucks and vans is at roughly the same levels seen in 2008, before the global financial crisis occurred, and in 2014, when demand in these two market segments rose prior to the hike in the consumption tax implemented that year. Since 2015, demand for small trucks and vans has remained flat, whereas demand for mini-sized trucks and vans has increased.
  • Patterns of use
    Survey results showed a decrease in the use of small vans and mini-trucks for deliveries to/shipments from end consumers. Compared with the results of the previous survey conducted in fiscal 2016, small vans are being used more for shorter-distance displacements and for round-trip displacements while mini-trucks are being used less for round-trip displacements.
  • Intentions with respect to future purchases
    -The trend to replace an in-use vehicle with the purchase of a vehicle of the same class and model remains firm.
    -The intent to make a replacement purchase of a vehicle of the same class and model as their current vehicle was higher among small truck/van owners than among mini-truck/van owners.
    -For businesses outside the freight transport industry, the vehicle use rate over the next one to two years is expected to remain flat (i.e., almost zero change). For businesses in the freight transport industry, the vehicle use rate during that period is projected to increase by approximately 20%; after the Tokyo Olympics, that rate is expected to drop by about 10%.
    -The further increase in the consumption tax scheduled for October 2019 is expected to have a significant impact on over 40% of the enterprises that responded to the survey. In turn, over 40% of those enterprises expressed their intent to move up the timing of their vehicle purchase(s).
  • Extent of awareness of environmental issues and next-generation eco-friendly vehicles
    Among the different types of next-generation eco-friendly vehicles, hybrid vehicles were ranked the highest by survey respondents in terms of purchasing intent. For the cab-over-engine small van category, survey results showed a growing intent among respondents to purchase electric vehicles.
  • Extent of general safety awareness and awareness of advanced safety technologies
    Over 50% of respondents in the freight transport industry expressed their intent to purchase a vehicle equipped with advanced safety technologies as options, as did over 30% of respondents in other industries. If cost were not a factor, more than 50% of all respondents asserted they would view autonomous driving technologies favorably.
  • The status of small-cargo freight transport and issues facing the sector
    Respondents in industries outside the freight transport industry confirmed their increased outsourcing of freight shipment orders despite increases in delivery charges. For respondents within the freight transport industry, improving shipment delivery efficiency is an issue that has yet to be resolved.
  • The status of driver shortages and issues involved in resolving them
    Although the freight transport industry is facing an increasingly serious shortage of drivers, no progress has been made in driver hirings, and remedial measures such as raising drivers’ salary levels and implementing work-style reforms (related to matters such as working hours and the division of work duties) that address the need to hire elderly and female drivers are critical issues requiring resolution.
  • The ownership outlook for small and mini-sized trucks and vans among farming households
    Over 30% of the farming households that responded to the survey expressed their intention either to reduce the scale of their farming operations or to withdraw from farming altogether. Of those households, approximately 30% have reduced or completely eliminated vehicle use.

More detailed information on the results of this survey is available, in Japanese only, on the JAMA website (http://www.jama.or.jp/).

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