By on June 12, 2013

Unperturbed by propaganda that the Japanese import market is closed, and that setting up new cars dealerships in Japan is just about impossible,  a myth propagated by an unholy UAW/D3 alliance to detract from the tariff and regulatory walls protecting the American market, Tesla opened its second Japanese showroom in Osaka.

According to The Nikkei [sub]  the showroom is in a pricey downtown neighborhood, in “a huge commercial complex in the bustling “Umekita” area north of Osaka Station.”

Tesla can do in Japan, what in most of the American market would be illegal: Open its own showroom. As long as the pricey real estate is no hindrance, no law will stop you, in Japan.

Retail prices of the Model S in Japan “will be roughly identical to those in the United States, where it retails for $80,000-$100,000,” the Nikkei heard. “Japanese consumers who prefer to purchase the right-hand-drive version of the Model S will have to wait until 2014 or after as the car is currently only available in the United States as a left-hand drive.” At least, Testa is trying to adapt to Japanese roads, something some Detroit makers don’t.

Uninvitational cockpit: That wheel is on the wrong side for Japan (the U.K., ,Australia,New Zealand, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Malta, Cyprus, Australia, Bahamas, Brunei, Barbados, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Thailand, Indonesia, Bhutan, Nepal, Macau, East Timor, Guyana,Suriname, more ..)

The Chevrolet Camaro for instance, notoriously is available in LHD only in Japan and elsewhere. So is the Corvette.  A RHD Ford Mustang is rumored for the 2015 model year. These cars are very popular with a certain clientele in Japan, but the steering wheel on the wrong side makes them less desirable. Overseas aficionados of American muscle cars have heard promises of RHD models in the past, and have been often disappointed.

With modern production methods, RHD/ LHD is less complex than an optional moonroof. In Japanese and European factories, LHD and RHD cars happily roll down the same production line. Successful sales in a foreign market start with making cars the market wants.

 

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63 Comments on “Unhindered, Tesla Opens Second Showroom In Japan...”


  • avatar

    I’m sure Tesla had RHD designed into the Model S platform from the start. I bet they just haven’t wanted to spend to tool up for it until they were ready to actually hit RHD markets in volume. I have no inside scoop on this, but I won’t be surprised if they’re shipping RHD cars by the end of this year or early next. These guys don’t mess around.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    すごい…高速度ゴルフカート!

  • avatar
    dwford

    Someone needs to teach Tesla the car business. They are doing it wrong. Selling direct to consumers, opening showrooms in “closed” markets. I mean really. They’ve got it all wrong lol.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    When Hyundai returns to Japan, then tell me the Japanese market is open, otherwise the propaganda is on your part.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      problem with that argument is that American cars are cool in Japan and elsewhere in the world

      Korean cars are not

      Korean cars succeed despite being ‘uncool’ by being decent cars

      American cars despite being ‘cool’ are not decent cars

      There’s an ad campaign here that goes along the lines of… “Dude, you’re getting a Jeep!” (sorta like the old “Dude, you’re getting a Dell”).

      It doesnt work. People say “Dude, you’re getting a Jeep? Are you stupid?”

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        The only American “cars” that are “cool” are what would be considered exotics outside North America: mainly V8 powered pony cars and big pickup trucks. These vehicles are gas guzzlers and not easily available in right hand drive, which pretty much makes them status symbols for rich Japanese who like to show off a quirky side.

        Every mainstream American C class car, the kind that would be much more relevant in every other part of the world, is sourced from a foreign car. The Chevy Cruze is a Daewoo Lacetti. The current Ford Focus is the same as the Euro version Focus. The Dodge Dart is based off a Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Not surprisingly, these cars are about as exciting as any Toyota, Honda, Hyundai or Volkswagen competitor since they are designed to appeal to mainstream tastes. Why would the average Japanese person want a Cruze, Focus or Dart if they don’t offer much more than a Civic or Corolla?

    • 0 avatar

      @billfrombuckhead:

      Do I smell booze in your kool-aid?

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Why did Hyundai/Kia withdraw from Japan if it’s so “open”? The Koreans seems to do well as an exporter everywhere else. Explain that one.

        • 0 avatar

          Failure to succeed is no proof of discrimination.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          Sometimes “non-tariff barrier” is simply shorthand for: “nationalism”.

          If a Japanese dealer prefers to sell products by a Japanese manufacturer, and a Japanese manufacturer prefers to buy parts from a Japanese supplier, what kind of laws can you write to prevent that?

          Even worse if the Japanese buyer prefers to buy a Japanese car.

          I think the Japanese market issue is solvable. But it would cost more than any potential break-in manufacturer would gain. The market is static, as is market share. And if you want to sell in volume in Japan, you need a Kei car, which you would not be able to sell in volume anywhere else, hence, you’d lose money hand-over-fist before overtaking even the worst-performing Japanese manufacturers.

          And you’d be doing it in a market that’s on the decline, instead of in Asia, China or India, where you’d be capturing market share in a very strong market.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          What did they offer, when they withdrew that was competitive? Kei cars? Nothing. Competitive B-Segment cars? Not at the time. A brilliant marketing campaign to create awareness and interest? Nada.

          Where are the trade barriers more significant than those issues?

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    It is not propaganda, but empirical evidence that shows the market is closed. Sure the door is open a small crack, but all imports combined still don’t capture 10% of the Japanese market, despite the “strength” you reported on June 3.

    • 0 avatar

      Empirics also show that the world is flat, and that the sun rotates around the world. Empirics also show that apples are bad for you: You get kicked out of paradise if you eat one.

      Failure to succeed is no proof of discrimination.

      There is no hard, cogent proof of a closed Japanese market, and judging from how hard people looked, they should have found one by now if one would exist. In the contrary, Japan – worried of being painted as a closed market – is one of the most liberal countries when it comes to car importation. Can you import any car to the U.S. without insurmountable hassle? I can to Japan, no problem at all. No fuss, no duty.

      Japan is an insular country, and very proud of its Japanese products. There is a market for imports in Japan, but the market is small. As a wise auto exec told me: “In Japan, you drive an import to show that you are different. The problem is, not many people want to be different in Japan.”

      Toyota once offered GM to import GM cars. GM denied. Japan’s car importer extraordinaire Yanase wanted to import 30,000 Saturns to Japan. GM denied.

      • 0 avatar
        Ron

        Bertel is right. I’ve studied both Japan and the automobile industry for decades. While not necessarily true a few decades ago, when the government pursued a mercantilist economic policy, Japan is no longer closed to automobile imports. Detroit does poorly because it only sold left-hand drive and, until recently, barges which were poor quality, too large for Japanese cities, and too inefficient for Japanese gas prices. Even the Yakuza (ヤクザ?), who traditionally bought flashy Cadillacs and Lincolns, shifted to German cars or the Toyota Century.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        “Japan is an insular country, and very proud of its Japanese products. There is a market for imports in Japan, but the market is small.”

        Doesn’t this contradict your argument that Japan is an open market? You need to be more specific about the meaning of an open market when you continue to hammer away at this topic. There may not be legal barriers closing the market, but by your own admission, it sounds like there is a large cultural barrier.

        Car manufacturers can barely be bothered to offer manual transmissions in the US due to the small market for them. Maybe the tiny pool of potential customers in Japan (and other RHD countries) doesn’t justify offering the Corvette in RHD?

        • 0 avatar

          There is a saying in Japan (at Honda, particularly) “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down”. Conformity is valued in that culture, rather than the individualism we all know and love. Buying an imported car is not something most people are comfortable with, unless it’s a Ferrari, Lotus, Caterham etc

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          They have no problems selling Ferrari’s, Porsches, Audis, Nissan GTR’s etc in RHD but GM has a major problem with the Corvette.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Bertel, empirical evidence can be confusing, if you don’t understand what it means. We actually know the world is not flat and the real structure of the solar system due to empirical evidence. The same is the case with most aspects of the high technologies we enjoy in the world today, not to speak of our knowledge of the greater universe. Collecting and examining empirical evidence is the scientific method and inherent to rational understanding of reality.

        George Bush 1 pushed the Japanese very hard to take steps to balance trade. The result was the NUMMI joint venture and, In 1996, we did manufacture and sell a Toyota Cavalier through Toyota dealers in Japan. The challenges of breaking in to the Japanese market are great and the rewards small. Bureaucratic interference adds thousands to the cost.

        We were the first non-Japanese maker, at least in the US, to be granted type approval that allowed the Cavalier to be shipped directly to retailers in Japan. It turned out to be a great effort for very small volume. What was a compact car here, was actually quite large there. While it generally appealed to young buyers here, we were surprised that it was WWII veterans, older people who bought the Toyota Cavaliers. The theory was they remembered when American Made meant quality. The challenges of doing business there led to the decision that it was not worth the long term effort and investment to build up volume.

        Empirical evidence never lies. It can be misunderstood, but if collected properly, is reality. The simple data of sales results is not subject to misinterpretation. The theory that it is only Japanese choice that limits imports doesn’t ring any more true than when a dictator gets 95%+ of the vote. It does not pass the smell test. This is not about American cars, but non-tariff barriers to entering the Japanese market for any outside company. I do understand the empirical data.
        And, of course you are right that failure to succeed does not prove discrimination. On the other hand, every importer fails to succeed in capturing any more than a very tiny slice of the Japanese pie, even the illustrious VW.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          But why would Japanese consumers choose the imports? For the non-prestige market what is the incentive to buy a car which is uncompetitive? Until the current generation Fiesta and Sonic, what US manufacturer offered a competitive B-Segment car? The Japanese don’t buy much that is bigger than that. Now, why would I buy a car which was only equivalent (so not demonstrably superior) that came from a company with no dealer network or brand equity?

          That is the question for a Japanese consumer faced with US brands in Japan, asuming they offered cars in that segment for sale. Which they didn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          VW’s market share in Japan is about 3.5%, roughly the same as in the US. And it’s still increasing sales in an overall down market.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    This is a disingenuous and deceptive article that creates the illusion the Japanese auto market is open. The premise is based upon biased logic that the Japanese auto market is open due to the fact you can buy all the $100,000 imported cars you want. How many people reading these words can afford a $100,000 car? I suspect, in Japan, the average Joe can’t afford a $100,000 car any more than they can in Europe, Canada or the USA. That aside, why it is that no foreign car maker builds in Japan? And those foreign car makers, not by collusion, but independently of each other have realized that building in Japan is not an option, yet these non-Japanese auto makers build all over the world? The answer NTB’s

    • 0 avatar

      About the $100,000 cars: Japan’s most successful importer is Volkswagen. Its best-selling car is the Polo, soon to be replaced by Volkswagen’s $15,000 UP!

      About no foreigner producing in Japan: All the D3 had, at some point, a presence in Japan. Remember Isuzu and GM? Mitsubishi and Chrysler? Mazda and Ford? Ford’s shares in Mazda were one of the few valuable things Ford had not mortgaged, so they sold a valuable company back to the Japanese. Failure to succeed is no proof of discrimination. Japan is a fading market, even the Japanese move their production out, so I don’t blame manufacturers for not starting production in Japan. Nothing would stop them if they wanted.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Which D3 cars does anyone imagine Japanese buyers would want?

    To a person, Japanese people I’ve talked cars with are instatnly dismissive and contemptuous of anything Detroit. Has this changed?

    For that matter, Taiwanese and Koreans also thought our stuff was a laugh fest.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      Sir Where do you see anywhere I mention Detroit cars in my writings? Your letting your own bias lead your words. To prove your own biased statments are wrong, just a few weeks ago in this web site, the FORD Focus was running close in the world sales race with the Toyota Corolla. I guess the rest of the world didn’t get your memo that non-Japanese cars are crap. I also noticed you didn’t comment on why any non-Japanese auto builder has not a single auto plant in the 3rd largest auto market in the world.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Hey…whoah… nicht schiessen!

        I didn’t even look at your comment before posting mine.
        And in fact I applauded one of your “elephant in the room” posts a week or so back.

        My question has nothing to do with your crusade which I happen to think is accurate and in keeping with Japan’s earlier history of kneecapping American auto imports with ridiculous disassembly-required port-side “safety inspections”, among other obstructionist tricks from the global masters of bureaucratic intransigence.

        I’m only asking how many Japanese want anything American and are they numerous enough to make an attractive market? Which niche pertinent to Japan have their domestics failed to fill with at least equal if not superior vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Pretty spot on. I noticed a Chinese accountant from Taiwan I spoke too, was constantly praising Japanese cars “They are very good”. Considering the animosity between the Chinese and Japanese, that was surprising.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Good for Tesla; I wish them well there. But Bertel is correct – right hand drive needs to arrive ASAP.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    I don’t know much about the Japaneese market but I do know they are a small people, who drive very small cars, park in very small spaces, pay several times as much as us for fuel, and their regulations are quite strict-for all cars and trucks.

    To say that their market is closed because they do not allow others to compete is pretty …shall we say closed minded.

    I do not think that a made in USA Cruze with its big 4 cylinder engine and wheel on the wrong side could do well at any price let alone the much higher transportation costs.

    http://www.autonews.com/article/20120920/BLOG06/120929989#axzz2W1HrupqN

    Japan a closed market? Don’t tell VW
    September 20, 2012 – 2:29 pm ET

    TOKYO — For all the complaints about Japan’s market being closed to imports, it doesn’t seem to bother Volkswagen.

    The German juggernaut, aiming to be the world’s biggest carmaker by 2018, wants to double its Japan sales by then.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      “I don’t know much about the Japaneese market but I do know they are a small people, who drive very small cars, park in very small spaces, pay several times as much as us for fuel, and their regulations are quite strict-for all cars and trucks. ”

      The Japanese in like american stuff – but our cars are just too impratical for them in general. You have to custom tailor your solution to Japan. If GM made say a Kei Car that was really good – that’s something they could sell.

      Most of the Japanese cars you see here are what the Japanese IMAGINE americans would like. That’s why they get stuff so wrong sometimes. It’s not really a car culture. OTOH a company like Audi can just ship the exact car they drive on the autobahn here.

      • 0 avatar
        SherbornSean

        I’m not sure which comment is more obnoxious, that the Japanese “are a small people”, or that Japan “isn’t really a car culture”.

        At what point does B&B mean Belligerent and Backward?

        • 0 avatar
          VA Terrapin

          Unfortunately, in North American-based auto enthusiast websites, racial and xenophobic attacks against Japanese auto companies has always been part of the norm.

          What’s really ridiculous in this case is that we have a guy who uses his screen name to shove Celtic pride down our throats, and he also occasionally bashes Japanese autos or, in this case, Japanese auto culture. When it comes to autos and auto culture, Japan has vastly more to be proud of than any Celtic country.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          It’s the truth. And the Japanese are well aware of it. Japanese men and women are much smaller then americans.

          Japan also does not have a good highway system linking place to place. It’s highly urbanized and has fantastic public transportation. Its not a car culture.

          What’s laughable is PC people like you who don’t know jack about Japan stepping up and “defending’ them in ways they aren’t the least bit interested in being defended.

          http://on.aol.com/video/herbivore-men-is-trend-threatening-japanese-population-517629926?icid=video_related_6

          Maybe try to learn something about Japan before lashing out. Half of men classify themselves as “herbivore men”. You think these guys are car guys?

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        CelticPete, here’s what you don’t get: bashing Japanese cars and car culture while shoving Celtic pride down our throats is like a guy who sucks at rec league baseball bashing Sadaharu Oh as a baseball player, or like a little girl who can’t run a lemonade stand bashing Akio Morita over his business acumen.

        As for “herbivorous” men: 1) you’re changing the subject to avoid talking about your very shaky standing in bashing Japanese cars while shoving Celtic pride down our throats, and 2) a big chunk of Derek Kreindler’s articles on TTAC are about why “herbivorous” people in North America don’t buy cars. He just doesn’t call them herbivores.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          I don’t shove Celtic pride down anyones throats. What the heck is wrong with you? A screen name is not shoving something down someone’s throat.

          I am a fan of the Boston Celtics – which I guess has something to do with Celtic Pride. That never meant I thought that the Irish make great cars. (WTF).

          Your whole argument is based on a fictional strawman.

          The Japanese do a great job selling cars they don’t even use to Americans. That’s not bashing – that’s a compliment.

          The Japanese only drive 8 miles a day average where americans drive 18.

          Its not really a car culture. You don’t have to make alot of cars to have a car culture..you just have to drive alot and really like cars.

          Koreans don’t have much of a car culture either. That’s not a bash on Koreans – its the truth. They fact that they manage to sell cars to Americans is impressive.

          As for Herbivore men – I was trying to explain something to you about Japan so you would understand with their incredible density, aging population and legions of men tuning out of society – they are not a car culture. It’s not a baseless idea – or xenophobic bashing. It’s the truth.
          Just like the fact that yes indeed the Japanese are smaller.

          Go over to Japan and if you are 6’4″ like me you will stand a good foot taller then seemingly everyone on the bus..

    • 0 avatar
      W.Minter

      True. D3 or one of the Germans easily could start production in Japan.
      3 RHD models:
      – Hybrid Kei: Country Edition (AWD, rugged, robust), Senior Edition (all safety gizmos available, big buttons, HUD, self driving), Cute Puppy Edition (integrated dog stroller), Akihabara Edition (touch, apps, remote, entertainment, Skype HUD)
      – 2 Box Hybrid Micro Van (4,4m), 150hp, AWD; imagine a Prius Crossover
      – Premium Hybrid Sedan (4.7m), taxi special, launch via free cars for Nihon Kotsu’s kuro takushii, state of the art rear seat entertainment, driver’s seat transfers into a nice bed

      I’ve never been to Japan, but I think I’m not terribly wrong.

  • avatar
    OliverTwist

    I am not sure where Bertel got the bright idea that the American manufacturers couldn’t built their North American vehicles for right-hand-drive (RHD) and for Japanese Domestic Market (JDM).

    In 1997, Saturn was first North American manufacturer to build its vehicles in both LHD and RHD as well as full JDM version on the same assembly line in the United States.

    http://www.welovesaturns.com/history.html

    The RHD version was also sold in the United States to the rural postal carriers.

    http://tinyurl.com/pxjevrc

    Chevrolet had sold second generation Blazer in RHD version in Japan and UK as well as other right-hand-drive markets.

    http://blazerforum.com/forum/members/kiwiblazer-9825-albums-right-hand-drive-blazer-20-picture-rhd-blazer-dash-11-1188/

    Same for Chevorlet Cavalier (sold as Toyota Cavalier)…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Cavalier#Toyota_Cavalier

    Cadillac had built its fifth generation Seville and first generation STS in both LHD and RHD.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Seville#1998.E2.80.932004
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/cadillac-performance/seville/98rhd.jpg

    Ditto for CTS (first and second generations).

    Chrysler has been producing the RHD 300 (first and current generation), PT Cruiser, Sebring, Town & Country (sold as Chrysler Voyager), Neon, and others. Not to mention Jeep Cherokee, Liberty, Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, etc.

    Ford regretted introducing its heavily ridiculed RHD Taurus (second generation) in Australian and the southeastern Asian markets. The situation was remedied with Ford Explorer (second and third generation).

    http://www.junkmail.co.za/motoring/4×4-vehicles/western-cape/cape-town/ford-explorer-suv-rhd-4×4-1997-model-for-sale-16441084

    http://www.tradecarview.com/used_car/japan%20car/ford/explorer/12218426/photo/?sid=300&pn=3

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      The Explorer and Taurus were total non-events. That is why Ford Australia introduced the very popular Ford Territory. Non-updating it for a VERY LONG time did not help its popularity much.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        The Ford Taurus wagon was better than both the Accord and Camery wagons, and outsold them both in Japan. Toyota got wind of this; and got the government to mandate that Ford install larger fuel tanks in the Japan Taurus. The floorpan could not accomidate the larger tank; and instead Ford shut down their entire RHD export line, and only built them for domestic use.

        http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/attachments/taurus-sable-general-discussion/32684d1095260301-ford-taurus-japan-taurus.jpg

        http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/543112_3281562132408_1668226073_2600136_1680953099_n.jpg

        Yes, neither the sedan nor the wagon sold well in Australia; they perferred RWD cars. But the Taurus wagon did do well in Japan. You can still find a few in the used car market today.

        • 0 avatar
          OliverTwist

          I believe the global sale of Ford Explorer was damaged by the Firestone tyre fiasco and Ford’s unwillingness to resolve the situation early and head on. Explorer had a strong penchant for roll-over after the tyre blowout event.

          The domino effect of started with Venezuela declaring Explorer to be very dangerous and wanting them banned from the road.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            No not really. It was a lot of Mechanical issues that killed Explorer here. The “toppling over” was surprisingly not an issue here.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            I would assume Ford Australia modified the Explorer here as a result of the problems Ford had mainly in North America its main market.
            The Explorer was noted in Australia as having warranty claims for mechanical issues after it was discontinued here.

        • 0 avatar
          ccode81

          Very interesting posting I’d love to know about details. Although it wasn’t super popular car as you wrote, it had presence about today’s Audi Avants in Japan.
          All I could find in japanese google with keywords” Taurus” & “fuel tank” were, it had either 60 liters or 68 liters capacity – which sounds large enough, and ex-owner bloggers comment that it was decent highway cruiser, yet had awful roll in twisty mountain roads.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            @ccode81;

            The original posting was from a former Ford Atlanta employee, and is on the TCCA forum:

            http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/124-taurus-sable-general-discussion/113509-japanese-tauruses-3.html#post1159961

          • 0 avatar
            OliverTwist

            RobertRyan, how do you mean by “surprisingly not an issue here”? I recalled it was a huge event in the United States that led to the federal mandate of tyre pressure monitoring system in the vehicles sold there and the sudden dissolution of family business relationship between Ford and Firestone.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestone_and_Ford_tire_controversy

          • 0 avatar
            ccode81

            @jhefner
            Thanks a lot for the reply, very interesting, yet puzzling.
            the car was offered to us until MY1999, and it had 68 liters or 18 gallons fuel tank. – not expert on this car, but some internet info tells so..
            http://ncar.carview.yahoo.co.jp/ncar/catalog/ford/taurus-wagon/F002-M003/grade/G003-spec/

            What could be considered, it is getting harder to pass safety requirement with third row sheet facing backward in Japan. This particular Tesla S is also in question if they can offer as 7 seater or not.
            Since most of the sales were wagons, maybe Ford gave up offering upon model change? well who knows

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            I’ve been looking, as well, and that’s the only post I’ve seen anywhere.

            What’s weird is that, at the time, the ONLY car in that size range with an 18 gallon tank was the Camry. The post got me puzzled, so I looked around, as I recalled many of the 1998 midsized Japanese didn’t really have big tanks. And there it was… most Japanese midsizers of the time had a mere 17 gallons in the tank, even the station wagons.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    What share of the pickup truck market does BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, Renault, and Hyundai have in the USA?

    Is it because the US is a closed market?

    Or is it because they don’t offer competitive products that Americans would buy.

    Japan is one of the most open markets.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Japan didn’t want Saturns? But they were such … good cars.

    Help, choking on my pretzels.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    Starbucks pulled almost completely out of the Australian market. Does this prove that there is a closed coffee market here? No. Since the huge European migration after WWII there has been good coffee available cheaply everywhere, Starbucks could not compete. The Japanese car situation is similar.
    Chrysler makes RHD versions of many of its cars because it does not have the overseas factories like Ford and GM who make locally customized vehicles.
    The comments about foreign car factories in Japan was laughable. Even the Japanese companies have been trying to offshore their manufacturing for years as it is a very expensive environment in which to build cars.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      How true. The Yen has been falling so that takes some pressure off making cars in Japan.DrPepper died a very quick death here as well, most thought they were drinking battery acid.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Canada has an open coffee market too. But Dunkin’ Donuts USA could not gain a foothold against Tim Hortons, early franchisees hoping to be wealthy soon discovered.

        From Wikipedia: “In Canada Dunkin’ Donuts has lost a substantial percent of its market share. In recent years the franchise has disappeared from all regions of Canada, except the province of Quebec. Its decline is most apparent in Quebec, where the chain once had 210 stores but now only has five stores left, the last franchisees in the country.”

        Besides the absurd name (here we only dunk stale donuts), DD’s coffee was even worse than Timmy’s, speaking personally.

        On the car front, I wouldn’t buy a Cavalier back in its heyday. It was the car you got when you could not afford better, a poverty choice. And it was this famed paragon of assembly quality and design that GM, in its infinite wisdom, decided to sell in Japan!

        Toyota, sneakily sensing an opportunity, decided to sell them for GM in Japan. Sure enough, the word got around and the Japanese knew the “true” state of US quality based on Cavaliers. That helped form a trade barrier right there. In my opinion.

        VWs may not be as long lastingly reliable as Japanese makes, but their initial quality look and feel is (was) superb. Since the Japanese scrap their cars after 4 or 5 years due to their inspection system, VW’s long term reliability hardly matters. Hence they lead imports in Japan at the popular price level.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    You got to understand that in Japan, to show that you have class and status, you have to buy a LHD luxury/exotic import on purpose just to show it off (even tho the RHD counterpart exists). Go pickup a Genroq magazine and you’ll see what I mean.

    That being said, I think the LHD Tesla will sell as long as the rich Japanese folks see it as something exclusive and bling.

    In Toronto there is a Tesla dealer inside Yorkdale Shopping Centre. I always see a lot of traffic with that store, and people taking test drives. But to me it still seems more like an amusement park than a real dealership (people taking pictures with their phones and kids sitting inside the cockpit having a blast with the touchscreen), and I almost never see a Tesla rolling around town (only once, and that could be a demo car lol).

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      Uh, don’t pick up Genroc. Or any other silly fashion mag. The overwhelming majority of wealthy Japanese want something in RHD. And from a well-established prestigious name. Just like everywhere else. LHD aficianados are very much in the minority, just like in the UK. Or like RHD devotees here. People for some reason keep assuming there is something mystical or different about Japan and other Asian cultures. There isn’t really. People are people, gearheads are gearheads. Languages and cultures add spice and variety, they don’t create colossal barriers to understanding.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        ” People for some reason keep assuming there is something mystical or different about Japan and other Asian cultures.”

        Man, will that never end? So many Americans and a few Europeans couldn’t believe I was only interested in the tech, not the tea ceremony. Every ancient culture has its bizarre, irrational myths & rituals. I’m not interested in any of them.

        But what the hey…. it keeps the undergrads trooping in, the academic departments open, and sells a lot of plane tickets.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          Seriously, and then they go over, spend a year in an Eikawa and get traumatized that the Japanese don’t share their love of mecha anime and bushido.

          I never forget the look on some teacher’s face when I explained that the sour-faced, “unteachable” housewife just wanted to talk about last night’s baseball game.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Baseball… friggin’…

            Japan is a wonderfully weird place. They have manga for everything. Including baseball (non-fantasy-sci-fi… just plain baseball) and golf and other mundanities.

            If the American manufacturers were smart, they’d commission a dozen mangas, one about American hotrods, one about an American car salesman trying to make it in Japan (typical fish-out-of-water comedy), another about a kid who restores an old Mustang, etcetera. Saturate the market.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            The Japanese write those already. What any potential mainstream entrants need to do is look at what the Japanese buy, then do that better. Add in some unique features that make a positive difference. Then go ballistic with TV coverage (the media of choice in Japan) and an accessible dealership in every big town.

            It’s the same as everywhere else. It’s also a hell of a lot of work for little reward, hence the reason no one does it.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Definitely very little reward. Like I said… better to focus on emerging markets like Asia and China than to go after Japan.

        • 0 avatar
          challenger2012

          “People for some reason keep assuming there is something mystical or different about Japan and other Asian cultures.” True statement.

          Before the Japanese started building cars overseas, it was accepted that the Japanese had some sort in inherent car making ability that no other nation/people had, until they set-up auto plants around the globe. Now, the round eyes can make quality cars, too and the Japanese are buying them in limited numbers.

          By the way, I worked for a Japanese company, Yokogawa. The Japanese and their companies possess no more magic than the rest of the world’s people.

      • 0 avatar
        krayzie

        Really? Then Grand Seiko watch sales must go thru the roof there with the wealthy. Interesting.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          Seiko has its reputation well-established, but so do the premium European brands. The difference is the pricepoints.

          Afterall, you can only discount diamond-encrusted stupidity so much.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Living near to their Aoyama Showroom in Tokyo, can’t wait for their official release and price announcement. I’m a serious potential buyer.
    Very small issue for me to the wheel on wrong side, beside some parking ticket vendor and limited locations of non electronic toll road gates are on right side only.
    But on contrast, I do not have fond memories of brake pedals of Peugeot 406 RHD I owned. pedal were connected to the master cylinder on the other side of the car with lots of rods, quite indirect feeling it had. Well maybe only an issue to delicate guys..

    Any good product with fair value to quality (or brand) will find some niche market in Japan, unless it is Korean related.
    To be major player, it requires to a lot of involvement to local economy. Just as everywhere else in the world.


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