01 March 2015

Japan Car Production By Brand : 1960-69

Could anyone back in the 1960's have seen the success the car industry in Japan would achieve? I know I didn't think their cars were as good as the competition and maybe back in the early 60's that was the case. However, by the end of that decade, things had moved on at some pace and they just kept improving. So let's break it down and see the phenomenal growth  of that time.

Total: Production for cars increased nearly 16 fold in the decade. Put another way, the 1960 figure was only 6% of the 1969 one. That was staggering expansion. Having the factory capacity to deliver that increase is amazing too.


Toyota: From 1960 it was the second biggest car maker in Japan but took the lead in 1963. It has remained there since. The successful Corolla was released at the end of 1966.

Nissan: It started the decade at the top but was soon overtaken. The Datsun Sunny (exported as the 1000 model) came out also in 1966. That year it acquired the Prince Motor Company, gaining models such as the Gloria and Skyline.

The N360 was the predecessor of the Civic

Honda: It started out making mainly sports cars but the tiny N360 model introduced in 1967 got production numbers up. It was soon the third largest car maker in Japan.

Mazda: In the early 1960's, they made the R360 kei car, a small Carol and the larger 800/1000 (Familia) model that all seemed reasonably popular. In 1966 the attractive Luce 1500 designed by Giugiaro of Italy was released.

The rest: None of the others grew like the top four and soon a gap had become apparent between them.


Year Toyota Nissan Honda Mazda Mitsubis Subaru

1960 42,118 55,049 - 23,417 5,203 13,037

1961 73,830 76,667 - 31,758 7,552 22,319

1962 74,515 89,003 - 41,882 8,396 12,442

1963 128,843 118,558 136 53,980 15,882 19,030

1964 181,738 168,674 5,210 60,957 29,497 26,116

1965 236,151 169,815 8,779 81,289 45,905 37,304

1966 316,189 253,046 3,209 92,143 75,643 59,410

1967 476,807 352,045 87,169 129,051 105,952 94,398

1968 659,189 571,614 186,560 178,115 130,253 103,746

1969 964,088 697,691 232,704 201,133 127,812 124,877


YearSuzukiDaihatsuIsuzuHinoPrinceTotal

1960--7,9337,40910,928167,054

1961--10,87512,46914,038251,469

19622,565-15,35711,73012,944270,796

19632,36051622,49516,75029,280409,793

19641,8195,54834,43621,91544,490582,364

19651,82811,33330,51526,23947,018698,141

19663,39421,75032,59920,273Nissan879,622

196726,45460,47338,7164,692-1,377,724

196896,47189,29639,776801-2,057,789

1969121,871104,84036,42974-2,613,488

Data source: JAMA.

Summary: It's amazing to westerners how the brands have survived, but it is no accident. According to Wiki, Japan has a system named keiretsu* which has kept these brands running through difficult times and created stability in the local car industry. The Japanese government has also at times got one car maker to help another if it is deemed necessary. It is one of the few places where the government and industry work together in a successful way.

* Where "member companies own small portions of the shares in each other's companies, centered on a core bank; this system helps insulate each company from stock market fluctuations and takeover attempts, thus enabling long-term planning in innovative projects. It is a key element of the automotive industry in Japan". (source here).

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