By on October 19, 2011

According to U.A.W. talking points, the Japanese car market is closed to foreign imports, and the yen is kept artificially low. Utter insanity on both counts. The customs duty on new cars imported to Japan is exactly zero, and the yen is so obscenely expensive that Japanese carmakers openly threaten to leave and privately are shifting as much production as possible out of the country. Unbeknownst to talking point readers, Japan has had a thriving car import market for decades. For more than a year, imports to Japan showed an uptick. TTAC has been taking about this for quite a while,  here, then here  and also here.

Today, The Nikkei [sub] did wise up to the fact that imports are getting hotter in Japan despite a tepid new car market. The Nikkei sent a reporter to an Audi showroom, interviewed a BMW customer, and noted a societal change: “My wife prefers foreign cars, so that’s why we bought one,” a bank employee who traded his domestic car for a BMW told The Nikkei. “They have lower fuel efficiency than Japanese cars, but that is not a big problem because we drive only on weekends.”

Now what’s really going on with imports to Japan? Let’s look at it a little closer.

At first glance, we see that Japan has been importing foreign cars for quite a while in decent quantities. The peak was in 1994 with nearly 400,000 units. The low was in 2009, when everything was low. In 2010, unit sales were already above 200,000 with a trend up. Market share gives a better picture than units sales. We show the import share of passenger vehicles, because that’s what’s mostly imported. The 8 percent market share in 2011 is as of September 2011, we don’t show unit sales for that year, because we don’t have them yet. They will be up.

Now let’s look who imports the mostest. To the left, we have the September sales. The market share is the share of all imports, not the share of the total market. We see the September sales 2010, and the growth compared to September 2010. Then, the whole experiment again for the first nine months.

  Imports Japan September 2011   January – September 2011
2011 Share 2010 Growth 2011 Share 2010

Growth
Volkswagen Group 9,255 27.24% 6,630 39.59% 53,660 25.97% 51,546 4.10%
VW 6,444 18.96% 4,557 41.41% 37,290 18.05% 38,192 -2.36%
Audi 2,783 8.19% 2,050 35.76% 16,214 7.85% 13,204 22.80%
Bentley 16 0.05% 19 -15.79% 85 0.04% 101 -15.84%
Lamborghini 10 0.03% 4 150.00% 69 0.03% 48 43.75%
Bugatti 2 0.01% 2 0.00% 1 100.00%
Nissan 6,015 17.70% 6,605 -8.93% 41,961 20.31% 16,913 148.10%
BMW Group 5,943 17.49% 5,495 8.15% 34,758 16.82% 32,340 7.48%
BMW 4,165 12.26% 4,130 0.85% 24,005 11.62% 23,415 2.52%
BMW MINI 1,758 5.17% 1,326 32.58% 10,576 5.12% 8,714 21.37%
BMW Alpina 17 0.05% 21 -19.05% 114 0.06% 159 -28.30%
Rolls Royce 3 0.01% 18 -83.33% 63 0.03% 52 21.15%
Daimler 4,929 14.51% 4,783 3.05% 25,644 12.41% 25,115 2.11%
Mercedes-Benz 4,688 13.80% 4,701 -0.28% 24,645 11.93% 24,293 1.45%
smart 240 0.71% 82 192.68% 990 0.48% 820 20.73%
Maybach 1 0.00% 9 0.00% 2 350.00%
Fiat-Chrysler 1,743 5.13% 1,519 14.75% 10,224 4.95% 8,883 15.10%
Fiat 817 2.40% 882 -7.37% 4,479 2.17% 4,377 2.33%
Jeep 435 1.28% 274 58.76% 2,407 1.16% 1,422 69.27%
Alfa Romeo 198 0.58% 156 26.92% 1,542 0.75% 1,225 25.88%
Dodge 174 0.51% 68 155.88% 783 0.38% 632 23.89%
Chrysler 41 0.12% 75 -45.33% 449 0.22% 630 -28.73%
Maserati 36 0.11% 29 24.14% 200 0.10% 217 -7.83%
Ferrari 31 0.09% 28 10.71% 294 0.14% 332 -11.45%
Lancia 11 0.03% 7 57.14% 70 0.03% 48 45.83%
Toyota 1,424 4.19% 1,102 29.22% 10,031 4.85% 6,973 43.85%
Volvo 1,605 4.72% 961 67.01% 8,172 3.95% 5,647 44.71%
PSA Group 1,078 3.17% 1,230 -12.36% 6,784 3.28% 6,230 8.89%
Peugeot 698 2.05% 874 -20.14% 4,569 2.21% 4,573 -0.09%
Citroen 380 1.12% 356 6.74% 2,215 1.07% 1,657 33.68%
Suzuki 228 0.67% 402 -43.28% 2,895 1.40% 3,517 -17.69%
Porsche 392 1.15% 218 79.82% 2,597 1.26% 2,510 3.47%
Ford 352 1.04% 318 10.69% 2,421 1.17% 2,295 5.49%
Renault 354 1.04% 245 44.49% 2,316 1.12% 2,036 13.75%
General Motors 293 0.86% 189 55.03% 2,213 1.07% 1,774 24.75%
Chevrolet 156 0.46% 64 143.75% 864 0.42% 676 27.81%
Cadillac 106 0.31% 97 9.28% 1,037 0.50% 745 39.19%
Hummer 18 0.05% 21 -14.29% 218 0.11% 276 -21.01%
GMC 10 0.03% 6 66.67% 84 0.04% 70 20.00%
Buick 2 0.01% 1 100.00% 8 0.00% 5 60.00%
DAEWOO 1 0.00% 2 0.00% 2
JLR Group 182 0.54% 199 -8.54% 1,507 0.73% 1,371 9.92%
Jaguar 117 0.34% 127 -7.87% 777 0.38% 808 -3.84%
Land Rover 65 0.19% 72 -9.72% 730 0.35% 563 29.66%
Honda 110 0.32% 10 1000.00% 800 0.39% 723 10.65%
Lotus 31 0.09% 19 63.16% 216 0.10% 226 -4.42%
Mitsubishi 3 0.01% 19 -84.21% 101 0.05% 148 -31.76%
Aston Martin 8 0.02% 13 -38.46% 100 0.05% 84 19.05%
Hyundai 12 0.04% 26 -53.85% 68 0.03% 182 -62.64%
Saab 7 0.02% 1 600.00% 49 0.02% 41 19.51%
Rover 3 0.01% 10 -70.00% 32 0.02% 47 -31.91%
Morgan 3 0.01% 3 13 0.01% 11 18.18%
MG 1 0.00% 2 -50.00% 7 0.00% 6 16.67%
Detomaso 1 0.00% 3 0.00% 1 200.00%
Pontiac 1 8 0.00% 6 33.33%
GMDAT 1 4 0.00% 5 -20.00%
Unimog 4 0.00%
Kia 3 0.00% 2 50.00%
Autobianchi 2 0.00% 1 100.00%
Mini 1 0.00% 2 -50.00%
Opel 1 0.00% 4 -75.00%
Saturn 1 0.00% 2 -50.00%
Subaru 1 -100.00%
Others 8 0.02 3 266.7 52 0.03 45 15.56%
Total 33,980 100.00 30,004 113.3 206,648 100.00 168,687 122.5

Source: Japan Automobile Importers Association

What do we see? As long as I can remember, Volkswagen had been the largest importer to Japan. This year, only by cumulating all brands of the Volkswagen Group could we defend that honor. On a single brand basis, Nissan would be the largest importer to Japan. Next in line are the usual suspects BMW and Daimler, followed way back in the field by a motley crew of Fiat-Chrysler brands. And what’s next? Toyota already imports the same amount as all Fiat-Chrysler brands. Ford and GM are way back in the field.

Imagine: Little Porsche sells more cars in Japan than Ford and all of GM. The reason for the low sales of U.S. cars in Japan is simple: People want imported cars alright. People just don’t get excited about American cars. Fiat’s stepchild Alfa Romeo sells better than the bestselling GM brand, the Cadillac.

Now look at the growth rates of cars that sell in appreciable numbers. The Germans are not growing by much. What is really growing are – Japanese imports! Nissan already imported nearly three times as many cars for the year than in the same period of 2010. Toyota is stepping up imports also. In the preceding year, Toyota imported 10,000 units per annum. This year, the 10,000 mark was already reached in September.  Already, 27 percent of the cars imported to Japan are Japanese brands.

If the yen remains strong, expect this trend to continue.

 

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36 Comments on “Guess Which Cars Sell In Japan? Imports. Now Guess Which Ones...”


  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    It’s been a while since Chrysler owned Lamborghini, this list needs to be updated. Japan has the best trade barrier of all, highly nationalistic consumers bigoted toward outsider goods. Nothing unfair about that, at the end of the day consumers in any country with closed minds lose by being limited to inferior products. The Koreans are making huge headway in America, Europe and China, but had to abandon Japan. VW has always had a tiny niche that it has not been able to grow. Morgan and Mitsubishi both imported the same number of cars, 3, that’s kind of interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I think the problem is the US just doesn’t make the type of cars that Japanese customers want. We make left hand drive light trucks and larger cars while Japanese customers want right hand drive small cars. The nearby Asian countries with significant automobile manufacturing like Korea and China are also left hand drive markets.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I think there is a lot of Chicken or the Egg going on. If the consumers aren’t going to buy foreign label cars then why should manufacturers put any effort into the Japanese market/if the foreign label manufacturers are not putting any effort into the Japanese market then why should consumers buy their cars.

        Every major manufacturer, including Hyundai, has an almost full line of RHD cars for the UK, Australia, South Africa and India. I think the automaker calculation is something like “I can push my best RHD cars in the Japanese marketplace, and, because of nationalist consumers, still end up with, at best, the ~70,000 or less sales that the leading foreign label importer, VW, will have in 2011, or I can import a piece of crap LHD Cavalier and make a political statement when nobody buys one.” GM getting maybe, at best, 50,000 RHD Opel or Vauxhall sales is probably not worth establishing a presence for one of those brands in Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ..George B………nail hit on head……Japanese imports of American cars would leap 500% (ok, mild exaggeration) if we just built right hand drives……imagine Toyota’s success if they sold only LHDs here. Economy of scale, market penetration, niche market, blah, blah, blah, ….compete!

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        “I think the problem is the US just doesn’t make the type of cars that Japanese customers want.”
        Agreed.

        I don’t think it is a RHD / LHD thing, as much as the fact that North America has conditions that are different from the rest of the world. Cheap fuel and long distances to travel lead to a preference for affordably priced mass market larger vehicles. Lutz is probably right in saying that domestic makers would an easier go of it with higher fuel taxes – they would serve to bring North American tastes more in line with the rest of the world.

        The F-150 is the perennial best seller in North America. It is a well built, reliable, durable vehicle that is probably almost impossible to sell overseas. Those who absolutely must have a pickup overseas will probably opt for something like the smaller, more spartan Toyota Hilux. I don’t think it would be much fun driving an F-150 (or a Tundra for that matter) in Tokyo.

        By the same token, import vehicles that are big sellers in North America are tailored to mainstream North American tastes – witness the recent success of the Americanized Jetta, or the unique to North America Honda Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        I sat in RHD models from Chrysler, Ford and GM at teh Tokyo Auto show in 1995. This myth that American car companies don’t make them is just that , a myth.
        The truth is many cars are ordered LHD because it’s a status symbol.
        When imports were high ( due to an exploding yen value) I drove past ads for American brands regularly, saw them on the road, and they were getting 45 K for a Mustang, 95K for a Cadillac Coupe, and 40K for a Jeep grand cherokee, all much higher prices than here and higher still than the Japanese cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Pug

        GS650G, can you tell me what US-designed Ford and GM cars come in RHD? I know of the CTS and SRX. Are there any more?

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        ” I don’t think it would be much fun driving an F-150 (or a Tundra for that matter) in Tokyo.”

        No worse than a delivery vehicle. I’ve driven large domestic & Euro vehicles in Naples, Italy. It can be done. Parking sucks though.

        My guess is that only we Americans lust after big American style trucks. To the Asians, American trucks probably look as goofy as we think some of the microcars look.

    • 0 avatar
      alanv

      vw owns lambo,as stated in article,as a group grew by 15% in Japan!
      They have 25 % of market(import market )
      Just as Americans are not interested in some German brands the Japanese are not interested in American cars!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I seem to recall those same “UAW talking points” coming from a variety of Big 3 executives and rust belt politicians. Nice to see management and labor agreeing on something.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Only if you consider the “talking points” from the 1980s and ’90s, when the statement was probably true.

    I have to say, to my eyes, your chart doesn’t support your argument very well. An import penetration of less than 10%, with no discernible trend over an 18-year period doesn’t look like much of an argument for an “open market” to me. And, as your article points out, a significant share of the imports are Japanese-branded vehicles manufactured elsewhere. I’d be curious to know if there’s any other OECD country where imports command only a 10% share of the retail market. I kinda doubt there are.

    That said, obviously right-hand drive is a problem and a big barrier to entry for manufacturers which serve primarily left-hand drive markets. Either they ask their customers to drive on the wrong side of the car or they incur substantial tooling and production costs to manufacture RHD models that will sell in probably small volumes. And, as far as US-manufactured vehicles are concerned, there’s no question that they fail to meet the needs of the geographically smaller and denser Japanese domestic market.

    At this point in time, given the size of the Japanese market and demographic trends in Japan, this issue seems close to becoming a “who cares?”

    • 0 avatar
      minneapolis_lakers

      Yeah, who cares about Japan? It’s only the third-largest national auto market in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      DC Bruce, yes, there is another country that also has a 5% market share penetration of imports: Korea. Surprised?
      The OECD released their report last year and of all their polled countries, Japan and Korea were dead last.
      Sorry, I don’t buy the Japanese apologists assertions that the Japanese don’t want to buy American. The Chinese do, so what makes the Japanese so special?
      It cannot be a coincidence that Korea and Japan are at the bottom of the OECD’s list. Obviously, some better reporting (perhaps a little digging, not just looking a press clippings?) to get to the truth?
      I remember years ago when I was looking into Japan Inc’s bag of tricks, I came across this gem: it took Toys R Us 4 or 5 years to open their first store in Japan. The red tape and the dead ends put up by various ministries in Japan were daunting.
      I mean how dangerous is a toy store to national honor, prestige and security? Now imagine the largest car maker trying to do business in Japan…..
      The cozy relationship established by MITI decades ago and its vestiges today bear some good investigation because the glaring stats stink to high heaven.

  • avatar

    Would everybody PLEASE ditch the RHD/LHD fascination? This is absolutely no factor. Most of the cars on that list come from LHD countries. Nobody in Europe even talks about RHD being a factor when selling cars to the UK. Australia, India, Thailand, Indonesia, large parts of Africa, all drive on the left. If a factory can’t make both kinds of the car, then I recommend dynamite.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    The Japanese aren’t stupid. It costs a lot of money to import a car. You have to really want a vehicle to put up the bucks to buy something that a domestic can do as well or better. I betcha all the Fords are either Mustangs or F150′s. If you were to get something from outside the country, you’re not going to buy a Fusion or a Lucerne.

    The whining from the imports is just ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I find it interesting that VW does so well. The VW brand is not prestigious, not like BMW/Merc, and it’s not really a better car, in any segment, than a Toyota, Honda or even a Nissan.

    Do the Japanese have a “German” thing going on?

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      About 20 years ago the Japanese had a “British” thing going on, and were importing lots of Minis and RV8s – so I don’t see why they wouldn’t have a “German” thing going on now.

    • 0 avatar
      alanv

      So lets get it straight ,the Europeans ,the Japanese and now the Chinese are all stupid because the Americans don,t like VW brands HMMMM.
      Think about it for some time….

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Eh. Xenophobia maybe, but if GM and Ford hadn’t lost the plot for 40 years straight people might be talking about how American’s would never buy a foreign car in any quantity. You know, like in the 50s. Domestic automakers have to really f it up for an extended period for foreign manufacturers to really gain a foothold.

  • avatar
    Matthew

    I think that this also has more than a little to do with Japan’s annual road tax and the sha-ken (comprehensive auto inspection, due every other year). Road tax is assessed per liter of engine displacement, and you can get good European cars with small displacement engines to avoid paying higher taxes, and Japanese cars that are sold both here and back in the States are available with engines in much smaller sizes than sold abroad (my Impreza has a 1.5 L boxer, not the 2.5 L sold in America). Prestigious European cars like BMWs or Benzes are bought by people with big enough incomes that this is not a problem. American cars face a problem here because a Ford Fusion is simply not in the same league as a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes Benz E-Class with similar engine displacements despite paying very similar prices for each product. Anything above 2 liters faces punitive taxation. I also imagine that the price of the sha-ken would make me want to commit seppuku were I driving an American car, not that it’s cheap for a Japanese car….

  • avatar
    eldard

    Who in their right minds would get excited about an Amerikan car, anyway?

  • avatar
    minneapolis_lakers

    I highly doubt the dismal performance of the “Big Three” in Japan had anything to do with xenophobia. Japan is arguably one of the most pro-U.S. countries in the world.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Even Americans don’t like American cars themselves. If it wasn’t for truck sales, the Big 3 would have closed shop a long time ago.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Forget Porsche, Volvo apparently sells more cars in Japan than all of the D3 combined. But to be honest I can’t really see why anybody in Japan would purposely go and import the American alternative, I’ve been stuck in various domestics for a while now since my car is in the shop. What’s really clear is that the very newest GM products are a huge improvement (frankly I was surprised at how much the Cruze LT didn’t suck after driving an HHR LT-it’s still a little bit oddly unpolished in a few areas but a good commuter car) there’s just no real reason someone would go out of their way to seek one out. Even though Cadillac would like you to think that it’s the standard of the world nobody outside of the U.S. really believes that. I’m now in a top of the line Malibu LTZ and frankly it’s pretty obvious why nobody is going to go out of their way to buy it when you can buy a Camry or Legacy or Accord or Mazda 6 nevermind that this size class doesn’t sell in Japan anyway. The mileage is abhorrent, there’s a weird squealing sound when you turn left [this is a virtually brand new car], and even though technically things are often soft touch in the interior it’s like they did the bare minimum to technically meet that requirement while using the worst possible materials-the questionably designed roof liner and accessory assembly [press on the lighting control panels in the headliner and it goes flopping around because they made a hollow pop-out in the roof liner...wtf?] and suboptimal ergonomics (far worse for someone of short stature [aka Japanese folks]) make it a tough sell at the same price in the U.S. but make it an impossible sale in Japan.

    What’s really interesting though is how the Japanese clearly shun the Koreans. Though, given the bad blood there in terms of the auto industry I can see why.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    The fact is Japan is a homogenous society. Their people are smart enough to band together for the common good and not screw their neighbors over to save a few bucks.
    Something we North Americans ought to learn. Before it’s too late.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    So the all-time peak for imports in the Japanese market is 8.4%, and that’s a sign that imports are booming? Please. Toyota alone had a 17% share of the US market in 2009. Even in Germany — a fiercely loyal market — their share was close to the total share for imports in Japan. No, these numbers are signs of very, very poor import sales in Japan.

    And why is that? Not import taxes; you rightly point out that “The customs duty on new cars imported to Japan is exactly zero.” But taxes are not the only barrier to the marketplace.

    Fact is, it is incredibly difficult to certify a foreign car for sale in the Japanese market. (Ditto for Korea.) It takes months and months and considerable expense. That expense is, understandably, passed on to customers.

    The result? A foreign car sells for much more than a comparable Japanese vehicle. In the US, the VW GTI and MazdaSpeed 3 are similarly priced. In Germany, they’re within €200 of each other. Ditto in Australia, to rule out any RHD premium.

    In Japan? The GTI costs ¥1M more than the MazdaSpeed Axela. That’s a $13,000 price premium for a car that sells for similar prices in every other major market in the world.

    Does that sound like an open market to you?

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Some comments from Tokyo.
    The Japanese market taste is getting boring more than ever.

    Would be hard to believe from a country buying millions of Camrys and Accords, but there is only 4 hot selling categories in Japan.

    Micro K-car: no foreign manufacture ever made a car to classify this category.
    Hybrid: no contest, Toyota’s monopoly
    Mini van: LHD do not matter too much, but slide door on right side matters a lot for obvious safety reason. small number of imports gives the door on left side.
    Compacts: super price conscious category.
    This is where Thailand built Nissan March (Micra) falls in.
    only VW/Peugeot offers something in reasonable price – and Koreans are out of question from emotional matter between cultures, they drown away after selling less than Porsche.

    so, offering nothing in those 4 categories means, need to fight in niche markets (unfortunately including 4 door sedan..) where maybe about 20% to 30% of total market volume.

    In each niche, imports are doing quite well, i.e. Audi TT was best selling coupe in Japan last year. Combined number of MB/BMW/Audi on the road is much more than Lexus.

    Other problem, cars are consumed in large volume at country side, where imports dealer networks are relatively weak. The biggest buyers has no access to the products. while Importers are enjoying faily high margin businees in urban zone where bought as expensive hobby / status symbols.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      Why didn’t Ford take advantage of its ownership of Mazda is beyond me. Oh, yeah. They’re only good at trucking. Not much else.

      • 0 avatar
        ccode81

        Ford had some success with a dealership called Autorama selling rebadged Mazda 121/323/626 as Festiva/Lazer/Telstar as some anonymous affordable cars in 80s and 90s – of course not counted as imports but ironically boosted Japanese exports to sell them in AP region as well.
        Then perhaps for raising Yen, they eventually shifted those models to mainly European made. During the migration, they confused their customer what Ford is by lining up Telster-the cheap/Mondeo-sub Europe premium/Tauraus – ripoff price, in same showroom, then could never regain the once established reputation.
        After all, Big3 did some halfway decision making about Japan rather to position it as serious export market or R&D / production center with what they had under umbrella. (GM had Suzuki and Isuzu, then Subaru later, Ford had Mazda and Chrysler had Mitsubishi Motors. )
        IMO, Ford was most successful using Mazda as passenger car R&D arm.
        Also GM was once very successful out selling VW by their Opel, then eventually pulled out for a reason consumer didn’t understand well.

        Anyways Big 3 always tries to make money with Japan with an idea UAW doesn’t like.

  • avatar
    Challenger

    I live in Japan and know quite a bit about the auto industry here and can tell you that American cars don’t sell here a) because they are usually not well suited to the market ie too big and b) because they still have this image of being poorly made, unreliable and with a big hassle involved in getting parts. Yes, I know, a lot of that’s from the ark, but mud sticks and no matter how good the current cars are (and they are good), it still takes a LONG time and serious bucks to regain an reputation – just ask Audi in the US.
    It didn’t help that some gee-whizz private importer back in old days brought in a big batch of Yank Iron then sold them off at huge discount when he found he couldn’t find buyers for then, thereby trashing the resale value as well.
    As for this age-old belief in Motown that Japanese buyers would rush to buy American cars “if only they had the chance,” and the Big 3 (as was) “wasn’t unfairly blocked out of the market,” – forget it. It’s a mindset thing as much as anything. Unless you are a Gucci or Porsche (ie you have a ‘brand”), it’s hard for anyone to make inroads into Japan.
    One reason VW has done well here is the fact that the cars have been consistently well marketed through high quality dealers, going right back to the Beetle days of the ’50s, and VW’s still have that quality, made-in-Germany image going for them. The VW Golf is Japan’s traditional best-selling import.
    There’s something else. Why SHOULD the Japanese buy American cars? As opposed to that giant and convenient range of Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishis, Hondas, Mazdas, Daihatsus, Subarus and Suzukis already on the market? To say nothing of BMW, VW and Mercedes as well – the Germans putting the time, money and effort into Japan and seeing the results while Detroit has just generally bitched and moaned about the market continually being “closed.”
    It isn’t – just look down the long list of imported cars you can buy, from Morgan to Unimog, and you can see that Japan is way more open than, say, Korea – but of course, you never read or hear about that.
    When it really comes down to it, Japanese don’t buy American cars because the idea is too much. It’s too much hassle. It’s “out of our world” and what would the neighbours think etc.
    That’s the belief. The reality may be different but that’s how people generally think.
    Meantime, here’s the surprise. Some US cars do go well in Japan – Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Hummers – while Astro vans and Caprice Wagons are also high on the cult list. My neighbour owns a noisy C6 Corvette – just to show that Japan, as ever, is a land full of surprises.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      “To say nothing of BMW, VW and Mercedes as well – the Germans putting the time, money and effort into Japan and seeing the results while Detroit has just generally bitched and moaned about the market continually being “closed.””

      Yeah, that’s kind of what Detroit has long done when approached about making import style vehicles. They make a small attempt and quickly pull the plug on them if they aren’t best sellers. They quit after a year or so when they ought to advertise them and try for 5 years.

  • avatar
    damikco

    400k cars is not an open market at all

  • avatar
    dodgeowner

    This article is does not tell the entire story of why American or European imports make up such a small percentage of the Japanese and Korean home markets. Just read a few sentence below and then check the other article as see “What the truth about cars” is
    Steve Biegun, a strategist for Ford, during a lecture in 2007 stated this about Ford’s attempts to break into the Korean car market

    * Ford was barred from airing advertising commercials except between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
    * Its showrooms’ floor space was restricted by government regulation.
    * Korean tax officials automatically audited anyone who bought a foreign car

    The tax audit tactic was copied from the Japanese. The Japanese also adjusted emission requirements, as needed, to block entry of foreign car makers, changing the requirements, while shipments of cars were in transit, so that they would not meet emissions specific ions upon arrival.

    What cars are allowed in are the more expensive luxury ones, the cars that don’t compete against the cars of the masses. For example the #1 selling car in Korea for 2011 was the Mercedes E300 CDi at just over 7,000 sold in a market of 1,484,082 cars sold or in other words a ratio of 7:1484 and that is the biggest selling imported car, the rest have numbers smaller than that.

    What about the closed parts industry in Japan, while there maybe a bias against foreign cars, a light bulb is a light bulb, a wiper blade is a wiper blade, show me a foreign parts suppliers not tied to a Japanese car maker that sells in Japan.

    If you doubt these words, to go this web site and see for yourself

    http://counterpunch.org/2009/07/03/detroit-s-collapse-the-untold-story/


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  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India