By on October 4, 2012

Detroit carmakers continue telling their fairy tale of the closed Japanese market, and their UAW members eagerly hang on their lips. Both don’t want to admit that their products are largely unsalable in Japan, and they blame the mythical bad Nipponese wolf instead. At the same time, sales of imported cars are up for the third straight month in Japan. Sales of imports were 35,841 in September, the highest since September 1996, data released by the Japan Automobile Importers Association shows.

January through September, sales of imported cars rose 13 percent in Japan to 233,609. The main drivers of imports are German and Japanese automakers.  Volkswagen remains the leading importer to Japan, followed by Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Imports by Japanese brands were lifted by Mitsubishi bringing in the Thai-made Mirage and by Toyota exporting its Avensis wagon from the U.K. Nissan’s imports dropped nearly 18 percent in the first nine months. All in all, imports by Japanese makers dropped 1.6 percent in the first nine months, while non-Japanese increased their imports by 18.5 percent.

Affluent Japanese who want to demonstrate their individualism with their choice of wheels is a small demographic which American cars seemingly are unable to penetrate. Fords and Chevrolets  keep being outsold by niche brands such as Porsche and Alfa Romeo. There is a small, but increasing market for Jeeps.  Most likely, it is easier to cry about a closed market than to start selling in Japan in earnest.

Imports To Japan, Jan-Sept 2012
YTD’12 Share YTD’11 YoY
VW 41,971 18.0% 37,290 12.6%
Nissan 34,512 14.8% 41,961 -17.8%
Mercedes-Benz 30,641 13.1% 24,645 24.3%
BMW 29,524 12.6% 24,005 23.0%
Audi 18,356 7.9% 16,214 13.2%
Toyota 13,508 5.8% 10,031 34.7%
BMW MINI 12,124 5.2% 10,576 14.6%
Volvo 10,315 4.4% 8,172 26.2%
Mitsubishi 5,884 2.5% 101 5725.7%
Fiat 4,353 1.9% 4,479 -2.8%
Peugeot 4,263 1.8% 4,569 -6.7%
Jeep 3,791 1.6% 2,407 57.5%
Alfa Romeo 3,560 1.5% 1,542 130.9%
Porsche 3,146 1.3% 2,597 21.1%
Ford 2,971 1.3% 2,421 22.7%
Citroen 2,912 1.2% 2,215 31.5%
Renault 2,403 1.0% 2,316 3.8%
Land Rover 1,159 0.5% 730 58.8%
Chevrolet 1,114 0.5% 864 28.9%
smart 1,076 0.5% 990 8.7%
Cadillac 941 0.4% 1,037 -9.3%
Dodge 828 0.4% 783 5.7%
Suzuki 808 0.3% 2,895 -72.1%
Jaguar 796 0.3% 777 2.4%
Chrysler 462 0.2% 449 2.9%
Ferrari 380 0.2% 294 29.3%
Maserati 239 0.1% 200 19.5%
Lotus 204 0.1% 216 -5.6%
Hummer 185 0.1% 218 -15.1%
Honda 169 0.1% 800 -78.9%
Bentley 147 0.1% 85 72.9%
Lamborghini 126 0.1% 69 82.6%
Aston Martin 120 0.1% 100 20.0%
Lancia 101 0.0% 70 44.3%
BMW Alpina 97 0.0% 114 -14.9%
Hyundai 82 0.0% 68 20.6%
GMC 81 0.0% 84 -3.6%
Rolls Royce 59 0.0% 63 -6.3%
Rover 41 0.0% 32 28.1%
Mclaren 24 0.0%
Saab 20 0.0% 49 -59.2%
Morgan 12 0.0% 13 -7.7%
Maybach 9 0.0% 9 0.0%
Pontiac 8 0.0% 8 0.0%
Unimog 8 0.0% 4 100.0%
MG 7 0.0% 7 0.0%
Bugatti 4 0.0% 2 100.0%
RUF 2 0.0%
Ssangyong 2 0.0%
Zagato 2 0.0%
Artega 1 0.0%
Autobianchi 1 0.0% 2 -50.0%
Detomaso 1 0.0% 3 -66.7%
Kia 1 0.0% 3 -66.7%
Mini 1 0.0% 1 0.0%
PROTON 1 0.0%
Saturn 1 0.0% 1 0.0%
Buick 0.0% 8 -100.0%
DAEWOO 0.0% 2 -100.0%
GMDAT 0.0% 4 -100.0%
Opel 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Others 55 0.0% 52 5.8%
Total 233,609 100.00 206,648 13.0%
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49 Comments on “While Detroit Complains About A Closed Japanese Market, Imports Are Way Up...”


  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I think this has more to do with the fact that most American vehicles are too large for the market and just don’t work well in Japan.

    Even our luxury vehicles are more about SUV’s than sedans. I will be curious to see how the ATS works in Japan.

    Overall, US doesn’t make enough vehicles to appeal to the Japanese. Possibly a Ford Focus, but I don’t see much else as the trim in small cars just isn’t good enough from American manufacturers.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    The audi pictured seem to have its signature LED DRLs off. I thought DRLs come on as soon as you start the car, and stayed on until the car’s turned off?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    There’s something goofy with this chart. This is the second time I’ve seen eight Pontiacs listed as being sold in Japan. Both in 2011 and 2012.

    How is this possible? Is some importer holding on to untitled G6′s and selling them off slowly?

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      I’d be more inclined to bet on importation of classic GTOs and Firechickens to muscle car fans. Those are the American cars which are popular in Japan. They’re not practical in the slightest, so sales are low, but something with that kind of flair and style will appeal quite strongly to Japanese consumers. The problem is that the U.S. only does that well at a scale which doesn’t translate. European manufacturers can do that level of character well in Japanese-scale products, hence the success of European brands offering such (i.e. Alfa Romeo).

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I assumed this was NEW CAR sales, not car sales in general.

        I can see where a Goat or an F-body would have collector appeal, but it appears to me the data is not explained well or correctly.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    All non-Japanese brands combined captured 7.7% of the Japanese market last year, but their share fell 14% to only 6.6% this year!

    Those imports were up 18.5% YOY,but the market was up 37%!

    VW is the import leader with an abysmal 1.6% of the market, hardly evidence that the market is import friendly, and the share falls off rapidly for the other makers. The market remains effectively closed in comparison to large markets such as Europe or the U.S. where, where import brands capture over 1/2 of the market.

    A classic case of “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.”

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Most customers are loyal to domestic Japanese brands, just as has been the case in the US (a long time ago), or France, or Germany. But there are customers who look for import models (as Bertel says), and there is nothing preventing foreign companies selling cars in Japan — assuming they have a product that Japanese customers want.

      As to that “abysmal 1.6%”, it’s not that long ago that VW’s market share in the US was in the same range.

    • 0 avatar

      Import brands do not account for more than half of the EU market if defined as non-European brands. Asian brands traditionally are somewhere around 15 percent market share in Europe. Opel and Ford are viewed as domestics in Europe, they have been there longer than Volkswagen.

      Japan is not effectively closed, it is very much open. As seen from the multitude of brands with small numbers, it is fairly easy to bring a car into Japan, much easier than to the effectively closed US.

      Japan definitely is not “import friendly,” not because of laws or regulations, because people usually do not favor imports. Japanese generally like Japanese, not just with cars. There is a market for imported cars in Japan, but the market is small and usually high-end. As long as one cannot dictate people what cars to buy, the Japanese market will remain very much open, but not very import friendly. Big differences.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        Let’s see, Nissan 34,512, Toyota 13,508, Mitsubishi 5,884, for a total of 22.9% of the imported car total, looks more Japanese than foreign to me. Also, look at the type of foreign cars purchased, VW, MB, BMW, Audi, 3 of the 4 automakers that sell expensive cars, out of reach for the common man. See that only I Kia was sold in Japan. Name any other car market in the world where only 1 Kia would be sold. I doubt that 1 Kia was sold in Europe, Africa, South or North America, but somehow only 1 was sold in Japan for all of 2012. As for those who push the nationalistic nature of Japanese auto buyers, it seems that if you have money your Japanese nationalism falls dramatically, MB 30,641, BMW 29,524, Audi 18,356, but Kia only 1, Hyundai not much better at 82.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        ” it seems that if you have money your Japanese nationalism falls dramatically”

        Or any nationalism for that matter.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The real criticism of this piece is that it suggests import share is rising in Japan while in fact, the opposite is true.

        My error, including EU in the same sentence. It is just the US market that is over 50% foreign brands. When you evaluate the EU market, Ford and Opel both can be considered foreign brands in the sense they are owned by US companies. Are they included in your assessment as EU domestics?

        Our experience with the first US made car (Toyota Cavalier)certified for direct shipment from a US factory to Japanese dealers illuminated the reality that Japan has non-tariff barriers that make it very difficult to sell there, and more so to justify the expense to develop a vehicle for that market.

        I recall reports of additional costs around $10,000+ for the Jeep models sent there in that time frame, the late 90′s. Japan required a re-check of fastener torque and a paint daub to prove it, for example. The data you present, compared with the total market numbers, empirically supports this truth. No foreign brand has more than a small niche in the market.

        Repeating a falsehood over and over does not make it true.

        As for the US market- it is not closed at all. Empirically this is proven by imports capturing over half the market. They just have to be good enough to meet our safety and emissions regulations and be competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Hyundai did not complain about the closed market. A couple of years ago they closed their passenger car sales in Japan. I wonder what explains that.
      I would like to hear the logistics of a foreign automaker setting up a factory in Japan. Impossible would probably be a gentle term to cover the effort.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        Korea is a closed market, just like Japan’s. Google: Detroit’s Collapse: the untold story, for another perspective.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Given the high yen, importing is much more cost-effective than manufacturing in Japan. That’s why you see even the Japanese manufacturers importing cars …

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        If you were willing to deal with the issues surrounding the yen, I could name at least 10 municipalities off the top of my head that would roll out the red carpet and assist the company with any regulatory issues they had.

        Japanese people don’t buy foreign cars because most foreign companies don’t offer cars they want, and those that do don’t offer the same pricing, nor have dealer/service networks on the same scale.

        It’s the same advantages Detroit used to have, but forsook (sp?) when they stopped delivering decent products for a few decades.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Korea is a closed market”

        Untrue. In fact, we have had a free trade agreement in place since March – although full tariff reductions on cars don’t take effect for five years.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        “All non-Japanese brands combined captured 7.7% of the Japanese market last year, but their share fell 14% to only 6.6% this year!”

        - Funny how TTAC didn’t emphasize that a big chunk of the “imports” were from Japanese brands who taking advantage of production from cheaper markets.

        And the Korean market is quite different from the Japanese market.

        Imports are on pace to take 10% of the market (compared to around 6% in Japan) and that figure doesn’t include domestically produced autos from GM Korea and Renault-Samsung.

        Add those and the % of sales by “foreign-makes” in Korea is about 25%.

  • avatar
    TTACCATT

    Yep, small numbers, but is it a closed market or closed minds of the people actually buying the cars? Can’t blame that on anyone really.

  • avatar
    marjanmm

    An Autobianchi? There hasn’t a new Autobianchi for decades, does this list include used cars too?

  • avatar
    rpol35

    With all of the world-wide opportunities for new car sales, market share growth et al, particularly with the prevelance of emerging left hand drive markets, I don’t think Japan matters any more.

  • avatar
    Mc

    Wait… the successful foreign importers to Japan are selling very few cars at high prices…to high income Japanese buyers… THIS proves that Japan has an open and free market??? What???? How????

    Sales for mass produced “successful” import cars like Polo and Golf seem awfully low for such a huge market… and Japanese publications rates these cars as “Japan Car of the Year”… yet their sales volume should be more realistically described as “Japan’s Losers of the Year.”

    So the Japanese companies themselves import a few models… but those same Japanese companies basically write the rules for the non-tariff barriers. How sweet it must be?

    In the more open markets in the world… you always see at least one successful foreign volume brand taking on the local volume brands (with volume!).. but there are no successful volume foreign brands in Japan. Not from Germany, Detroit, Seoul… or anywhere.

    Doesn’t anyone think that this is odd that people keep trying to say Japan is “an open car market”?? Is it just me?

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Wonder if the Koreans will jump back in now that market’s not closed anymore? ROFL

    Oh I forgot their cars aren’t made for ……………..oh wait

  • avatar
    skor

    The USA has 2.5 times the population of Japan, but the USA imports 4.5 times as many Ferraris as does Japan. Since both the USA and Japan have high per capita GDP numbers, what does that tell you about income inequality in America v Japan?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Detroit’s problem with the Japanese market is three-fold:

    The Japanese public prefers Japanese cars. Nothing wrong with that… the Japanese makes had a hard time getting traction here, too because of domestic preference. Everybody in my age bracket started out driving domestic cars and that bakes in a certain amount of brand loyalty. I bought 2 new Chevys in my day, without even looking at the Japanese. I moved to Ford. Still, even just a few years ago, TTAC ran an article showing domestic preference… 40% of the US market would not consider an Asian car at all. Domestic preference has been greatly weakened here but isn’t dead.

    The Japanese makers didn’t build junk that gave their customers incentive to look to imports instead. Ford and GM did that to me. Even today, the quality, durability, reliability and reparability of Japanese cars is probably significantly superior.

    Detroit is not good at building the cars the Japanese actually buy. Could GM actually build a competitive Kei car? Twelve years after the US introduction of the Prius, GM does not have a credible competitor and the #1 and #2 cars in Japan, in recent months, were the Prius and the Prius C. To get a halfway decent small car, GM must farm the work out to their Korean sub.

    If Detroit wants a significant piece of this market, then they’re going to have build cars the Japanese want and to do some hard work and make some significant investments in marketing, development and make sure their vehicles are top-notch in every way.

    Frankly, I don’t see Detroit doing that for a car market that’s much smaller than the US market and which is likely to decline further.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      You state the Japanese have a preference for Japanese cars, except how do you explain that expensive cars are the import leaders. In other auto markets, actual car sales show that more common man cars are sold than high end expensive cars. The number of cars sold to the average Joe greatly outnumbers the MB and BMW sales, except in Japan. I will borrow someone else’s quote, How does selling high end cars to wealth Japanese show the market is open? Average Joe’s don’t buy BMW and MB, at least not in the USA.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        The market is open. It’s easy to import even small numbers of cars (look at Dodge, or Lancia, for example). Compare this to the very high federalization costs for the US market, where VW will not import a Scirocco, or Mercedes will not offer a 5-speed due to the high costs.

        As TTACCATT said, it is the customers’ minds that are closed. It’s a long haul to build market share in such a market, but VW and others have made significant progress over the past 10 years or so — and the Japanese blew open a very similar market in the US in the 1960s and 1970s.

        But in any market, you need to have a product that the customers want to buy.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Easy… people with craploads of money who want to express themselves through their car buy something distinctive and different. If everybody else is buying a Toyota, you buy a…

        The actions of that small minority of the marketplace, though, really don’t have anything to do with the majority of car purchasers, most of whom will be ordinary income people with ordinary needs, who simply want a good, fuel-efficient car.

        Nor would I say that selling high-end cars necessarily mean that the market is open. However, I’ve looked up the tarriffs and there aren’t any.

        What I did point out are three excellent reasons why Detroit has no traction in an open JDM. Those are still valid reasons and are more than sufficient to describe why people in Japan aren’t driving Chevy Cruzes.

        You wouldn’t buy a Kei car, either. You don’t hear Toyota wailing about their failure to sell in the US.

        Heck, more people here choose Corollas over Cruzes. You’d think GM would understand this market better than Toyota but, somehow, this doesn’t work out for them. It took Detroit a long time to lose market share to the Japanese and it’s going to take them a long time to win it back.

        At the moment, I own nothing but Toyotas. Is it because I hate the US? Nope. I still have a certain amount of domestic preference but it’s overwhelmed by my previous experience with Detroit vehicles. Buying Toyotas has allowed me to have reliable and even enjoyable transportation with low operating costs… I’m keeping more of my money and I like it that way. When I have confidence I can get that from Detroit, then Detroit has a shot at my business.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Challenger, to Japanese minds, “premium” essentially means foreign. JDM luxury options have improved over time, but for ultimate snob status, you’re still talking European. Hence the success of premium imports.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Just a thought, but if you were convinced that the data proved your point, then you would have provided the monthly sales numbers (not just the annual figures), and you would have measured “market share” in the way that people actually use the term (sales as a percentage of the total market, not just the share of the imported cars.)

    Of course, you know as well as I do that 26,000 units of sales in one month isn’t that impressive. BMW sold more cars in the US in September than imports of all brands sold in Japan during the same month.

    And while it’s nice that you continually portray this as a US vs. Japan issue, you know as well as I do that the Europeans also complain about Japan having a restrictive market. The European automakers and their lobby gripe about Japan just as much as do the Americans (and unlike the Americans, they would have something to gain if they could get their way.)

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      Right on the money. I don’t know why these articles are being continually published, its obvious someone has an agenda.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        As long as you are asking that question, why are the “most fuel efficient manufacturer” stats published without any analysis. Is anyone surprised that Hyundai that does not manufacture trucks has a better average FE than Ford who sells a crap load of F series? Some stats are very heavily scrutinized here, others not so much….

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        pch101 and dash riprock are right on the money.

        These fractional import numbers don’t prove an open market. They pretty much show that selling cars in Japan with a foreign nameplate is very very hard.

        Europe complains about the closed market of Japan, and they actually sells cars there. What does that tell you?

        dash is right about the sales weighted mpg numbers that true car puts out as well. Simple analysis will tell you that a Ford 150 in the same “truck” segment as a Hyundai Sante Fe isn’t an apples to apples comparison. But, alas, there is no analysis. Just a simple cut and paste about how Detroit doesn’t make cars with good mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Mc

      You said it! That is my point too! We should not be writing articles claiming that mass market imports are doing “well” in Japan…. or as things stand have much volume opportunity.

      Ford was the #1 selling car in Japan until it was shut down in 1940. Ford was never allowed to reopen their Japan factory … and gave up on it in 1980, by selling off the factory land. Japanese consumers like all human consumers buy in quantity the car that meets their needs, that meets their budget, and that is legally available in quantity to buy. If imports again were treated as Ford once was, an import mass competitor would get a real share in Japan…. just as they do in all the worlds other less restricted markets. The Japanese are not socially or genetically different from the earth’s other consumers….. But their laws are! (and Toyota/Nissan/etc wrote them that way).

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        It’s not the “treatment” of imports by the government in terms of taxes, tariffs or regulations that’s the problem: the US much more onerous there.

        The problem for the importers is in being able to offer cars that match the Japanese consumers’ buying preferences. This is not easy, but it’s not something that can be legislated away, either. Build a better mousetrap, and you, too, can be successful.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    This is a myth created by the UAW. Last time I checked, there were no import tariffs on foreign cars in Japan. The USA can’t say the same. There are several reasons why imports (and US) cars have a difficult time selling.

    1) As has been mentioned, the Japanese prefer buying Japanese. No shocker there. I think Americans prefer buying American if at all possible too.

    2) There are at least 6 Japanese domestic manufacturers. Right of the bat, that makes imports a tough sell. Imagine if the USA has 6 domestic manufacturers. Imagine the choice of cars you would have before even considering an import! If this were the case in the USA, import sales would be vastly smaller. Much like it is in Japan.

    3) The import cars are (generally) too big. Size of engine/vehicle plays a big role in how the car is road taxed. This explains why the Kei markets (660cc and smaller) accounts for ~1/3 of all sales there. The imports generally don’t compete AT ALL in this market segment, which is a significant one. With the aging population there, many are looking for more frugal and smaller. Something the US car makers don’t offer.

    4) Japanese prefer funky vehicles. Imports are very tame in comparison. Again..this goes back to selection among the 6 domestic manufacturers.

    5) They like hybrids and very frugal/green vehicles. Again..not much from the imports in this regard.

    I could go on with some deeper reasons. But these simple reasons are a large part of it.

    As TTAC pointed out..the close market is a myth.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      If it is a myth created by the UAW, why do European manufactures complain about it?

      Why do small call imports not work well? KIA, Hyundai, and VW all have small cars that could be imported. VW imports some, but still complains about it being a closed market.

      And the Japanese do not prefer funky cars. NOTHING that Toyota makes today is funky. Honda, nothing funky. Nissan, they have some funky cars. But they aren’t leading in sales there either.

      There is a study out there on why imports are hard in Japan. But, if I type the title here, my post always gets flagged spam.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        RR You sound like a pitch man for the Japanese Auto Industry.

        1) Where is your data to back up your claim that Japanese prefer buying Japanese cars? Again, how do you explain the discorporate number of expensive foreign cars purchased vs. the lack of any lower end foreign cars? If your argument is that people with money want a car that other don’t have, wouldn’t the same thing apply to buyers at the lower end of the car market as well?

        2) 6 Japanese auto makers no doubt conspire to keep foreign makers out of the Japanese market, just as the Japanese Auto Parts makers conspire together in auto parts price fixing. So far 8 Japanese parts makers have pleaded guilty in price fixing in Japan. In the US, Yazaki paid a $470,000,000 fine and Denso $78,000,000 for price fixing.

        3) You state that 1/3 of the market is Kei sized cars which leaves 2/3 that are not. 2/3 of the market is a lot of cars.

        4) Japanese like funky cars. Give me a break! I worked for Yokogawa USA and knew the cars the engineers drove.

        5) Hybrids so new to predict a trend

        I would say it is looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it’s a duck. And the fact that so few foreign cars are sold in Japan and compounded by the fact they are mostly expensive cars is all the proof you need to show it is a closed market. Other that Korea, there is no such a disproportion number of expensive cars purchased vs. cars in any car market other than in Japan. This is a fact.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    Challenger,

    It’s really a matter of brand snobbery once you get into the expensive cars that carry the highest road/weight taxes…which are afforded by the more affluent people. Badge appeal reigns supreme in that segment. Not much different than brand/snob appeal in the USA for the wealthy.

    Do you want to pay the highest road/weight tax for a Toyota Avalon? Or have the appearance of prestige and wealth with a similarly taxed BMW or Mercedes? Most opt for the BMW or Mercedes. Many German cars in this tax bracket outsell Japanese luxury brands….easily. Snob appeal+fashion statement.

    Again…I don’t think this is much different from the USA. The “every man” will buy American (domestic) if they can…and the rich will opt for a more prestigious brand.

    Oh..and the funky styling was related to the micro and Kei market. I should have made that more clear. I also suppose “funky” is defined differently by each person.

    Again..there is ZERO import tariffs on foreign vehicles in Japan. That being said, how are the 6 domestic manufacturers conspiring to keep cars out? If they can’t tax them out…what exactly do they do to keep them out? Certainly if they had as much power as you think they do there would not only be import taxes…there would be rather large one. And there are neither. Nor is there any quantity restrictions. Import manufacturers can import as many cars as they want. So no taxes and no quantity limitations.

    How are they conspiring to keep them out again?

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      You might want to read this.
      http://wardsauto.com/europe/european-auto-makers-leery-eu-japan-trade-pact
      See what the EU thinks about this topic. Tariffs aren’t the only way to regulate trade.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @BrianL, the European manufacturers complain about only two things:

        1. Tax advantage of kei cars. Here the Japanese manufacturers have an advantage as Europeans don’t have anything to offer that qualifies — but that still leaves 2/3 of the market.

        2. Inability to use EU certifications as is, without any additional testing. They are correct on this, but the US regulations are far more onerous yet, as can be seen by the multitude of low-volume models being sold in Japan (an impossibility with the US safety and emissions requirements).

        Beyond that, it’s down to consumer preference.

  • avatar
    Mc

    RR, Tariffs are only one of hundreds of tools available to close a car market. Who sold you on the myth that only tariffs are what count?????

    Here in Korea Hyundai and the ROC were able to block Prius sales for years. They decided that only LPG powered Hybrids could legally be sold in Korea… (why such a nutty meaningless regulation???) … giving Hyundai an exclusive locked home market as Hyundai experimented with the tech. No tariffs was ever charged.. and no Prius or Volts could get in. Once Hyundai figured out how th make Hybrids they tooled up to produce gasoline hybrids for export and dropped the LPG-Hybrid only laws here in Korea.

    For government, it is so easy to set local regulations in rediculous ways to knock out foreign makers. If your local makers are asked to help write local regulations like in Japan and Korea… the game gets nasty… and as you RR pointed out “no tariffs” are seen.

    This is called non-tariff barriers. It’s the Iceberg under the water.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Sure its bluster by Obama and the UAW the Japanese market is closed. The real reason is that Japanese for the most part want small cheap appliance cars and this is what the Japanese maket best.

    But this article is still thinly disguised US car bashing its not like the Euros sell alot of European cars over in Japan. For the most part Japanese like Japanese cars and Europeans like European cars…

    Here in the states we have alot of disgruntled baby boomer types turned off by crappy 70, 80 and 90s cars and thus we sell alot of european and Japanese cars..

    In general though most markets stick with their own..


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