There probably is no other major car market where oil-burners play less of a role than in Japan. Even diesel-averse Americans buy more. Excitement about brown diesel wagons notwithstanding, diesel-powered cars limp along at around 3 percent market share in America. In Japan, where diesel-powered cars were banned from the streets of Tokyo 14 years ago, and where they carry the onus of being smelly, their market share is below miniature one percent. In both markets, there are hopes for a big diesel turn-around.
In America, most of diesel’s featherweight is carried by Volkswagen which just doesn’t want to understand why diesels won’t sell in European quantities, where every other new car bought is a diesel. In Japan, Mazda bets big on diesel.
Mazda sells diesel versions of the CX-5 SUV in Japan, and also of the Mazda6, called the Atenza in the Nipponese market. Says The Nikkei [sub]:
“Their success encouraged Mazda to also equip its smaller cars with diesel engines. This year the company will add a diesel version of its fully remodeled Axela — sold overseas as the Mazda3 — and in 2014 will offer a diesel version of the fully remodeled Demio. The Axela will initially be equipped with a 2.2-liter diesel engine, but Mazda is developing a 1.5-liter engine that it plans to use for both the Axela and the Demio.”
The Demio is better known outside of Japan as the Mazda2.
Mitsubishi is planning to offer diesel-powered vehicles in Japan. Volvo will release a diesel car this year, and Germany’s Volkswagen plans to introduce a model in or after 2014. In addition, both Daimler and BMW plan to bring more diesel cars to the island nation.
Says the Nikkei:
“By 2014 at least 10 different models of diesel cars will be available, or double the present number. Overall annual sales, stuck below 10,000 units in fiscal 2011, are predicted to balloon to 200,000 to 300,000 units.”
Assuming the Japanese market remain what it was in 2012, this would be a take rate between 5 and 7.5 percent.