TOKYO - In 1998, the Toyota Corolla and the Suzuki Wagon R battled all year for the title of Japan's best-selling car. The Wagon R eventually won, relegating the Corolla to the No. 2 rank for the first time in 30 years.
In 1999, it wasn't even close.
In a market dominated by minis, the Suzuki Wagon R won in a landslide on sales of 230,246. The Daihatsu Move was second, with sales of 178,913, and the Honda Life third, with sales of 176,912.
The Toyota Corolla fell to fourth place on a volume of 160,677 units. Still, Toyota claimed three spots on Japan's top-10 sellers' list, more than any other carmaker.
In the No. 5 spot behind the Corolla was the Toyota Vitz, which flew out of showrooms in its first year on the market to the tune of 156,646. The luxury Toyota Crown was No. 10, with 87,253.
Moreover, the Vitz tall wagon is just the first in a family of new subcompact models from Toyota. Other siblings include the Platz sedan, which will be sold in North America as the Toyota Echo, and the FunCargo, designed to haul cargo more than people.
In December 1999, the Vitz was the fourth best-selling model in Japan, with sales of 11,251. Just ahead of it at No. 3: the FunCargo, with 11,557.