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  • Copyright© 2017 Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. All rights reserved

    1 Introduction 

    Despite keywords such as “negative interest rate”, “slowdown in consumption” and “volatile yen exchange rate”, the Japanese economy in 2016 exhibited modest signs of recovery as the real growth rate of the gross do- mestic product (GDP) for the 2016 calendar year (Janu- ary to December) rose by 1.0%, marking two consecutive years of positive growth (Fig. 1).

    For the automotive and related industries, the post- ponement of the consumption tax increase in June, and the highlights of the 2017 tax reform in which revisions encompassed the fuel-efficient car tax reduction sched- uled to expire at the end of March 2017 as well as the tax incentives for green investments, resulted in the good news that the increased tax burden for vehicle buy- ers would be delayed for two years. In addition, the Diet approved the TPP at the end of the year, leading to con- ditions expected to stimulate economic recovery for the globally expanding automotive industry.

    Outside Japan, in contrast, the year was marked by the stagnant growth rate of the China’s GDP that drives the economy of Asia, the uncertainty surrounding the feasibility of the fiscal policies advocated by President Trump, the referendum on the U.K. leaving the EU, and other circumstances with an impact on the Japanese economy. The nature of that impact will draw significant attention.

    2 Recent Truck Market Trends 

    2. 1. Freight Shipments in Japan Freight shipments in Japan in 2015 amounted to 407.3

    billion ton kilometers, a 1.9% reduction from 2014, and comparable to the 2012 volume. These shipments break down into 204.3 billion ton kilometers shipped by trucks, 21.5 billion ton kilometers shipped by trains, 180.4 billion ton kilometers shipped by sea, and 1.1 billion ton kilome- ters shipped by air. In terms of share, trucks accounted

    for 50.2%, trains for 5.3%, maritime shipping for 44.3%, and air shipping for 0.3% (Fig. 2).

    If the amount of freight shipped by motor vehicles is further broken down by the types of truck used, ordi- nary trucks account for 78.4%, light-duty trucks account for 2.0%, special-purpose trucks account for 19.5%, and mini-vehicle trucks for 0.2%, representing a ratio almost identical to the one in 2013 (Fig. 3). 2. 2. Number of Trucks in Japan The number of trucks owned in Japan has continued

    TRUCKS

    Overall Trends

    Fig. 1 Japan 2016 GDP (from Cabinet Office statistical data).

    Quarterly GDP growth rate Real

    Nominal

    Real

    Reall*

    Reall*

    Nominal

    Nominal

    Nominal

    0.3%

    0.4%

    1.0%

    524.6 trillion yen

    521.8 trillion yen

    1.3%

    539.7 trillion yen

    537.3 trillion yen

    Compared to October to December 2016 term

    October to December 2016 term

    2016 calendar year (compared to previous year)

    2016 calendar year *Real amounts represent the chained 2011 yen.

    Quarterly GDP amount

    Annual GDP growth rate

    Annual GDP amount

    Fig. 2 Freight shipments in Japan (fiscal year).

    6 000

    5 000

    4 000

    3 000

    2 000

    1 000

    0

    Sh ip me nt s (h un dr ed m ill io n to n ki lo me te rs )

    0.3%

    44.3%

    5.3%

    Share 50.2%

    Ships Trains Trucks

    2008 09 10 11 12 13 14 15

    *Private mini-vehicle trucks have been excluded from the survey since 2010.

    Air shipments in Japan

  • Copyright© 2017 Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. All rights reserved

    to decline, reaching 14.41 million at the end of 2016, a de- crease of approximately 91,000 vehicles, or 0.6%, relative to the previous year. Broken down by type of truck, the number of ordinary trucks grew slightly, by 0.9% while light-duty and mini-vehicle trucks dropped slightly, by 0.5% and 1.1% respectively (Fig. 4). 2. 3. Number of Truck Registrations in Japan The number of truck registrations in Japan in 2016

    was approximately 810,000, an increase of 1.1%, or 9,000 vehicles, compared to the previous year. By truck type, there was a tiny 0.4% increase for ordinary trucks, while light-duty and mini-vehicle trucks declined by 2.1% and 1.1%, respectively (Fig. 5). 2. 4. Truck Exports Approximately 380,000 trucks were exported in 2016,

    a decrease of 82,000 units, or 18%, compared to the previ- ous year. Sales of ordinary and light-duty trucks declined by 13% and 41%, respectively (Fig. 6). By destination, the number of exported trucks remained essentially the same in Southeast Asia, North America, and Oceania, but declined by 35% in the Middle-East, where it had risen for four consecutive years, and by 34% in Africa (Fig. 7).

    3 2016 Model Year Trucks and Special

    Characteristics 

    3. 1. Trucks Manufactured in Japan The issue of driver shortage in the logistics industry is

    becoming even more pressing as economic recovery in- creases the logistics volume. The number of effective job openings for drivers has continued to rise since 2009, and the ratio of effective job openings-to-applicants stood at a very high 2.61(1) in December 2016. Given that the driver workforce has a higher age distribution and lower ratio of young people than other industries, the aging of the population is expected to aggravate the shortage of workers in the long term. This has been leading modified

    Fig. 3 Freight shipments in Japan by vehicle type (fiscal year).

    *Private mini-vehicle trucks have been excluded from the survey since 2010.

    3 500

    3 000

    2 500

    2 000

    1 500

    1 000

    500

    0

    Sh ip me nt s (h un dr ed m ill io n to n ki lo me te rs )

    0.2% 19.5% 2.0%

    Share 78.4%

    Mini-vehicles Special-purpose trucks Light-duty trucks Ordinary trucks

    2008 09 10 11 12 13 14 15

    Fig. 4 Number of trucks in Japan according to vehicle type (as of the end of December).

    1 000 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0N

    um be r of v eh ic le s (1 0, 00 0 ve hi cl es )

    2009 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

    Ordinary trucks

    Light-duty trucks

    Mini-vehicle trucks

    Fig. 5 Number of truck registrations in Japan according to truck type.

    45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0Nu

    mb er of tr uc k r eg ist ra tio ns (t ho us an d v eh icl es )

    2009 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

    Ordinary trucks

    Light-duty trucks

    Mini-vehicle trucks

    Fig. 6 Number of truck exports according to truck type.

    50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0Nu

    mb er o f t ru ck e xp or ts (t ho us an d ve hi cl es )

    2009 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

    Ordinary trucks Light-duty trucks

    Fig. 7 Number of truck exports according to destination

    16

    14

    12

    10

    8

    6

    4

    2

    0N um be r o f t ru ck ex po rt s ( th ou sa nd ve hi cle s)

    2009 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

    Southeast Asia Middle-East

    Africa Central and South America Oceania North America Europe Others

  • Copyright© 2017 Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. All rights reserved

    specifications thought to appeal to drivers and to the commercialization of trucks that anyone can drive safely and comfortably. 3. 1. 1. Heavy-Duty Trucks Isuzu Motors Limited completely redesigned its heavy-

    duty Giga Tractor truck in April, and added a model equipped with a new lighter engine and a dedicated transmission to its line of Giga heavy-duty trucks. In es- sence, this represents a continuation of the whole-vehicle modifications unveiled in October 2015.

    With the adoption of a larger radiator and the Eco-stop function enabling automatic stops and restarts for the engine mounted on the tractor, some models now exceed the 2015 fuel efficiency standard by +5%. At the same time, the more advanced Smoother-Gx automated manual transmission provides smoother starts and gear changes (Fig. 8).

    The additional Giga model is equipped with a newly- developed 7.8 liter 6NX1 engine. Its small displacement and use of a 2-stage turbocharger provide stable torque characteristics through a broad range of low to high en- gine speeds while ensuring excellent carrying capacity. The new 9-Spped transmission paired with this engine has high-capacity carbon synchronizers for all stages, provides faster gear shifting with less operation effort, exhibits excellent drive performance via a wide gear range, and enables smooth acceleration.

    In November, Isuzu also added a cargo short cab mod- el and a 4-axle model that ensures greater loading capac- ity to its Giga CNG heavy-duty truck line (Fig. 9).

    3. 1. 2. Medium-Duty Trucks In July, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. modified some of the

    specifications of the NT450 Atlas light- and medium-duty truck. The start-stop system that was only standard equipment on some models was made standard on all models, and the diesel model with a maximum carrying capacity of two tons achieved a fuel efficiency of 11.60 km/L (heavy-duty vehicle mode), the highest in its class. At the same time, the Hill-Start Assist function was add- ed to trucks equipped with the Duonic 2.0 dual clutch transmission.

    The interior was changed to a basic black and silver theme that offers a sober cabin space. Furthermore, the addition of a driver’s seat side support and a larger cush- ion provide a comfortable driving environment. Conve- nience was also enhanced by standardizing storag

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