In January, car imports to Japan shot up 53 percent, reports Automotive News’ [sub]Asia Editor Hans Greimel from Tokyo. Quick, who do you think takes top honors?
It’s Nissan. Nissan is riding a wave of March (elsewhere known as Micra) cars. They used to be made in Japan, now they are made in Thailand and brought to Japan. We have been following this trend for a while.
For years, Volkswagen used to be the top import brand in Japan. In January, Nissan beat them according to data released by the Japan Automotive Dealer Association. Nissan imported 3,500 cars in January, the Volkswagen brand imported on 2,758 cars.
Together with Audi, the Volkswagen Group can still claim the title largest importer with a total of 4,154 units. Nevertheless, the Nissan number is remarkable. Of the 35,771 passenger vehicles Nissan sold in January, 10 percent were their own imports from abroad.
Other Japanese manufacturers follow suit on a smaller scale. Toyota imported 956 units from abroad, mostly trucks from Indonesia.
“But,” says Automotive News, “Toyota still sold more imports in Japan than Ford, Cadillac, Jeep, Chevrolet, Chrysler and Dodge combined.” (In case you want the gruesome numbers, here they are: Ford 218, Cadillac 84, Jeep 73, Chevrolet 187, Chrysler 0, Dodge 46.)
Greimel sees this as part of a bigger trend. Other manufacturers, such as Mitsubishi, will start importing to Japan Japanese cars Made in Thailand. “Non-Japanese imports climbed 13 percent in 2010 and advanced 20 percent in January. But imports of Japanese brands doubled last year and nearly quadrupled last month,” Greimel writes.