By on May 12, 2014

vw-golf-japan-december-2010b

Sales of imported cars set a 17 year record in Japan, with brands like Maserati and Volkswagen leading the way, with Bloomberg reporting that non-Japanese brands captured 8.8 percent of non-key car sales – the highest figure since records started being kept in 1989.

Mercedes and Maserati both had record setting years in Japan, while the VW Golf was the best-selling non-Japanese car, ranking 27th overall. The VW Up! is also said to be stealing sales away from kei car shoppers, and the trend of smaller imported cars appears to be a welcome one for Japanese consumers.

Previously, most European brands imported big, expensive luxury sedans, attainable only to the upper strata of Japanese society. Many of these examples were also left-hand drive, which was considered to be a status symbol by many, in the way that a right-hand drive car has enthusiast cachet in North America (and an inconvenience as well – which was arguably part of the appeal).

But the Golf and Up! have demonstrated demand for smaller, imported premium vehicles, and other brands have been following suit. Mercedes is set to begin sales of the A-Class compact hatchback, while Volvo’s V40 small hatch is the brand’s best selling vehicle.

Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that imported vehicles will ever make up a big part of auto markets in Japan. Despite talk of non-tariff barriers and other obstacles, there are significant cultural hurdles to overcome. Certain American vehicles (like muscle cars and large custom vans) have a following among Japanese enthusiasts, but for the vast majority of consumers, American cars are simply too big and too thirsty for Japan. Witness the boom in European vehicles, which didn’t take off in earnest until smaller vehicles became available. Among Japanese auto makers, kei cars are the dominant segment, with smaller cars taking up most of the non-kei share.

Beyond that, Japan is a society where conformity, not individual expression, is considered a virtue. “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down”, is a constant refrain in discussions of Japanese management culture, and what better way to stand out than by buying a vehicle made by the opposing team? Based on that alone, it’s reasonable to conclude that talk of closed markets and non-tariff barriers are secondary

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86 Comments on “Imported Cars Have A Record Year In Japan...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This makes me think of a Vine video I watched on YouTube with a guy reading car names for 7 seconds in English, with a very heavy Japanese accent.

    VOLKSUHWAGENUH TEEGUWANUHH!

    The taxes in S. Korea make a similar status symbol of imported cars, and it’s also a bit against the grain not to purchase a “home car.” Especially if the imported thing you choose is Japanese.

    -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qa5wm7OqxA

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      I don’t know if it’s a status symbol at the lower end, so much as a fashion statement. Driving a VW, or French or Italian non-premium car is sort of a statement about personality as much as anything, given the options for real-world transportation from JDM brands are so strong for that market.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The growth in imports in Japan pales in comparison with that for the S. Korean market and that doesn’t even included all the foreign owned brand produced in Korea (not to mention that a decent no. of “imports” to Japan are actually Japanese autos made elsewhere).

      • 0 avatar
        romismak

        Both countries are similar market share in Korea is close to 12% for foreign imports, of course RSM, GM korea and Ssangyong are home brands in this case.

        In Japan it´s under 10%, the difference is Japan has far more home brands and little barriers, while Korea has FTA with US and EU – especially siince EU deal, german exports increased dramatically, before that share was also maybe 8-9% just like Japan so Korea and Japan are really similar in term of how much of market share foreing imports have – yes from all imports not sure now 1/5 or 1/4 are Japanese brands, but if we are talking about market share of imports we meant foreing brands, like in article is mentioned 8.8% is share for foreign brands

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Last year, import sales in Korea was 12% of the overall auto market and this year, it is on track to be over 15% (sales of imports are up 27% for the year).

          Add the foreign owned brands which build in Korea and we’re talking over 25% of sales in Korea to foreign/foreign owned brands.

          That’s quite the contrast from the share of foreign brands in Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            romismak

            I meant similar- not the same

            I knew Korea was about 12%, o.k this year imports grow it will go up, in Japan it was above 10% in passenger car segment of non-mini vehicles – so that´s not so different percentage.

            And you can´t seriously count Chevrolet, RSM and Ssangyong produced in Korea as foreign brands if we are speaking about imports share, those are ,,domestic,, brands. O.k Chevrolet is questionable, but Ssangyong and Samsung are home brands and even Chevy must be separated from foreing imports, Chevy would never have 10% share if not seen as domestic brand and produced locally.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            This year, in Korea – it will be over 15% for imports.

            Can’t break out kei cars from the rest of the auto market; maybe Japan will see a 10% share for non-Japanese brands this year and if that is the case, 15% (not counting GM Korea, etc.) vs. 10% is pretty significant.

            Ssangyong maybe shouldn’t be counted, but they’re a bit player anyway.

            Renault Samsung’s name starts with the foreign owner and all of the their models are based on either Renaults or Nissans.

            As for GM Korea – when they were GM Daewoo, they did a brisk business selling Chevy badge kits since many preferred to own a Chevy over a Daewoo-badged car.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Really? I heard Japan was a closed market.

  • avatar
    romismak

    8.8% from regular car sales is good number, in KEi cars foreing brands are not avalaible and among non-kei cars there are also trucks-ligh, heavy trucks and so on so in passenger vehicle non-kei segment i guess foreign brands have more than 10% market share which is similar to S.Korea- where they reached 10% in 2012 i think, now the share there is about 11-12%.

    In both countries top 4 by far biggest brands are german – premium 3 + VW

    Japan. 1.VW,2.MB,3.BMW,4.Audi in Korea 1.BMW,2.MB,3.VW,4.Audi

    In Japan for example VW up is very popular – which is by EUR standars very small car

    I can see while MB, BMW and AUdi are so popular seen as superior classy -luxury german vehicles, but why VW is so popular i can´t get it.

    VW in Europe, China, Americas is mainstream brand, why in the hell it is seen here so popular i don´t get it, just becuase it´s german doesn´t mean it´s premium brand….

    About Japan being closed market like many said, well i guess they are wrong, it is possible to sell in Japan, but 1 thing people must realize is that Japanese have most brands from all countries – Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubish, Daihatsu, Suzuki, Subaru and more – they don´t need foreign mainstream brands – which are more expensive than domestic, so they want only premium foreing cars – like german, british, italian – that´s why nobody would buy mainstream brand Ford or Chevrolet unless he wants american car to own.

    For example in Europe or USA foreign brands have plants – allt hose asian and european plants in NA or japanese, korean and Ford plants in Europe-but Ford is in Europe for decades it´s not so foreing brand like others. Simply it´s comparing apples with oranges, unless they will have factories in Japan they can´t go much beyond that 10-15% share i think

    The same with Korea, GM having plants there now Chevy has 10% market share, but without producing there no way you can´t sell big if you are mainstream brand

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Why would foreign mainstream brands (Ford, Chevy, Chrys), be more expensive than Japanese domestics?

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Same reason that Japanese cars shipped over here are more expensive than Japanese cars made here.

        It costs money to import.

        It also costs money to support a dealer network, and when you have very small volume to amortize the cost over, that tends to bump up the price of each car a bit more.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Otoh, Japanese cars built in the US and shipped all the way across the Pacific to SKorea were cheaper than those built in Japan which only had to cross a narrow strait.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They also pay tax per engine displacement, which of course on American cars is always bigger.

      • 0 avatar
        romismak

        DenverMike

        It´s cheaper to produce locally + transport costs like someone mentioned already

        Nice examples are Hyundai-Kia – relatively cheap good cars exporting to all corners of this planet, but they are nothing in Japan-i even think Hyundai closed their Japan operations 2-3years ago, also some taxes, duties for imports even few % difference means a lot if you compare japan home car vs foreing one and you think your own japan car is superior + is even cheaper, that´s why i wrote mainstream brands have no chance to succeed in Japan unless someone wants to buy Ford or Jeep to just own american car, that´s why VW is so popular that it´s german that´s why they sell. But generally imports are premium brands

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          Japanese people really, really love classic American cars and trucks. My brother-in-law’s dream car is an 60s or 70s Caddy. Insane and impossible in Japan, but if he wins the lottery, definitely going in his garage.

          Now, the current Chevy Cruze or Ford Focus just don’t move him in the same way, as is the same for many of us…

        • 0 avatar
          Manic

          Here’s (half-baked) biz plan for the GM: sell Opels in Japan. Not small Chevys or other Korean products but German made Opels (or RHD Vauxhalls) with Opel batches.
          Same semi-exclusive import segment as Golf. Europe is far away and not another angry neighbor. If Americans buy mundane Opels as semi- premium (Buick), then maybe Japanese would too.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Lucky damn short people! They can drive anything on the world market and not find it crampy.

    Look at that lady in the photo… she can actually see UNDER the RVM.

    (Jeez.. she can almost see under the steering wheel o_O)

  • avatar
    Vega

    If you are really quiet you can hear the ghost of Bertel roaming the halls at TTAC HQ…

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      My thought exactly. I miss his Asia-sourced articles.

      (Due apologies to Japanese who bristle at being called Asian)

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I thought “Asian” was good, “Oriental” bad.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          DenverMike – -

          Off topic. I apologize.

          I realize we live in this exaggerated “political correctness” era, but for me, “Oriental” refers to people from China, Korea, or Japan; whereas Asian can also refer to people from India, Pakistan, or Turkey. Isn’t “Oriental” therefore more specific to the former group?

          —————–

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            I think Middle East should be a continent.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Not exaggerated – do you think Asians want to associated with the same terms as for a carpet?

            And yes, the way the Brits do things is a bit different.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            “Oriental” is used to denote a style, as in a rug. It is inappropriate to refer to people with “Oriental”, because it shows a perspective in which Western is normative.

            “Asian” is fine for referring to people or things from the continent of Asia.

            Some Japanese do not view themselves as part of Asia, and are sensitive to being lumped in with folks from the continent.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Some comedian had a bit about that.

          “Asian is people Oriental is food!”

          Though I do enjoy how people used to say “The Orient” and “The Occident.”

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          I don’t know… I was once told by an engineering prof who spent years in Japan to stop saying Asian. Like it wasn’t something a Japanese would ever bring up to a gaijin but it bugs them nonetheless.

          And then I’ve read comments in expat forums that confirm that and ascribe it to Japan’s being the first in Asia to modernize and they therefore consider themselves more first world than Asian, or East Asian, as universities call their language dividions for Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

          • 0 avatar
            onyxtape

            37% of Japanese females in the US have white husbands, whereas all other Asian ethnicities have interracial marriage rates of less than 20%.

            Even their manga espouse big round eyes, fair skin, and blonde hair has their ideal concept of beauty.

            They have a greater bit of inferiority complex, I suppose.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Onyxtape, thanks for resuscitating a dormant interest… the seemingly perverse, self debasing adoration by Japanese of someone else’s phenotype.

            I just ordered the Kindle version of John Dower’s “Embracing Defeat”. Read it years ago but only a library copy. I recall it mercilessly delving into the sordid social damage wrought by the Occupation. Not exactly light reading.

            But on a lighter note, who but the Japanese would not only idealize their overlords’ outward appearance but exaggerate it to bizarre excess? It’s like they’re mocking their self-abnegation (and the occupiers) even as they intensify it.

            Creepy, giant round eyes… yeesh.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s not secret that in the US, the VW brand is a dog. The VW brand’s US market share YTD: 2.3%.

    In Japan, VW is the leading import badge. The VW brand’s Japan market share YTD: 1.2%.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      What does this tell you about image? In Europe and other places, VW is held in high regards. Yet VW/Audi reliability is less, than Asian and US auto makers, and parts are higher as is labor repair costs. My Asian neighbor purchased a 2006 BMW series 3, in 2010. The brakes needed repairing, so he went to the BMW dealer. $1,500 for 2 front rotors and pads all 4 wheels. Ouch. I will stick with my Dodge.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Have you been to a Dodge dealer lately? My brother was quoted $2k for brakes and rear struts on a Caliber last year.

        All dealers are a ripoff, not just German ones.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Pch I disagree. The VW brand image as a manufacturer of fun to drive cars is fairly strong in the US. For example, a GTI is a cool car in spite of the Americans low regard for hatchbacks, valve deposit issues, and DSG maintenance costs. If Volkswagen ever figures out how to deliver the German car driving experience without the excessively complex German car maintenance headaches, they will gain market share here.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Sluggish US Sales Threaten VW’s Growth

        “We understand Europe, we understand China and we understand Brazil,” says supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piëch. “But so far we only understand the US to a limited extent.”

        And that’s the root of the problem: Volkswagen views the US market through a German prism. “The biggest problem we Germans have is that we think we know what the Americans want from us,” said Winterkorn.

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/declining-sales-in-us-market-pose-challenge-to-volkswagen-a-938102.html

        Even VW has figured out that it is sucking wind in the United States. And VW has half the market share in Japan that it does in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          But growing consistently year over year in Japan, in a stagnant market.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          VW “dumbed down” the Passat and Jetta (probably too much) for the US market and sales increased exponentially.

          However, the sales growth has since stalled since the domestics, Koreans and Japanese do it better.

          Frankly, the US market is geared towards interior room, reliability, safety, fuel economy and price with driving dynamics being towards the bottom (hence – explains Mazda sales in the US compared to places like Canada, Australia, Europe, etc.; Mazda is like what the old VW was in the US).

        • 0 avatar
          TheyBeRollin

          Why is Audi so popular? They seem to have figured something out there.

          The difficulty VW has with their brand in the US is a long-term effect of their last 50 or so years selling cars here.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford already id it and even Buick.

  • avatar
    niky

    “Based on that alone, it’s reasonable to conclude that talk of closed markets and non-tariff barriers are secondary”

    I’ve always thought them to be secondary. It mattered once, but at this point, just as with America and their SUV/pick-up market, entrenched consumer preference, a mature market and (non-trade) laws that are friendly to unique local platforms (CAFE footprint calculations and low gas taxes in the USA, Kei regulations in Japan) make it so you have to build to the choir to get any momentum going.

    I see the Up! doing well, but going smaller to pierce the Kei barrier might be the way to go to crack that market wide open. Give the Japanese consumers something better than a Kei, with more prestige yet with all the benefits and tax breaks those receive, and they may just lap it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The type approval process is used to slow down the influx of new product, while the kei car market provides a substantial chunk of market share that naturally favors the domestics.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Low-volume imports don’t require type approval (much easier than importing low-volume cars to the US). I expect BMW to use this option for the i3 at least initially.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The low volume exemptions don’t help mainstream automakers to sell in volume, which is related to the issue of low market share.

          The European automakers contend that type approval is used to create red tape that most greatly impacts them. They are not happy about this, despite what the former editor of this website would have you believe.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            The low-volume exemption allows you to sell up to 2000 cars of the type per year. Audi, for example, sold about 28,000 cars last year: they would likely need to do type approvals for A1, A3 and A4 (similarly 1-series and 3-series for BMW) but could use the low-volume exemption for cars such as the A8, TT or R8 (7-series, 8-series etc).

            Ford only sold 4,189 cars so likely all of them were under the low-volume exemption. Chrysler, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge etc all fit their entire annual sales into 2,000 units.

            The 2,000 unit limit is too low for volume sales, but allows a manufacturer to test the market inexpensively, and to supplement the volume models with specialty ones.

            Of course EU also requires a type approval … and US has its own set of (different) requirements.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Again, the point remains that type approval barriers slow down the ability to bring volume cars to market. (We are talking about the difficulties in building market share, remember?)

            Those barriers serve to raise costs, which need to be passed on to the customer in the form of higher prices, which makes the cars less competitive, which reduces sales volumes, which constrains market share. Import market share is only about 5% of the market in Japan, and some of that includes cars imports made by Japanese automakers.

            If you believe the EU, then the NTBs raise the prices of European imported cars into Japan by about 10%. A 10% tariff is high enough to help the locals, as the Japanese know firsthand with their own exports to Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            I fully acknowledged the need for type approvals for volume models in my post. But similar costs and delays are also incurred for bringing new models (volume or otherwise) to the US and European markets.

            The 10% is quite possibly true for players with minimal volume (such as Ford, Fiat, PSA). I expect VW’s premium is less given that it’s able to sell some 70,000 units per year in Japan and amortize the costs over that volume.

            But you need to play the long game. VW has grown an average of 9% per year for the last four years, in a stagnant economy, and now sold 96K cars (all brands) in 2013. And it’s up further 18% in 2014.

            There are obstacles, sure. But there are obstacles in every market. VW’s sales growth simply shows that one can succeed in Japan, too, if one has enough patience.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Perhaps the readers need to understand what “type approval” is. “Type approval” doesn’t permit a car to be sold until that model has been specifically approved by a government agency or recognized authority.

            Japan accepts the EU’s type approvals for only some components. Type approval for the remaining components and for the whole car must be done in Japan. And that process reportedly is slow and opaque to a point that it stifles innovation, since it isn’t always clear what will be approved and what won’t be.

            The US doesn’t have type approval at all. The US isn’t going to use inspection approvals in order to hinder the launching of new vehicles, because it can’t.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “The US doesn’t have type approval at all. The US isn’t going to use inspection approvals in order to hinder the launching of new vehicles, because it can’t”

            Just completely different standards and a closed NAFTA Market. Makes importing difficult.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I have no idea what a “closed NAFTA market” means, unless having one of the lowest import tariffs, lower prices than elsewhere, and freedom from type approval are supposed to be a bad thing.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “I have no idea what a “closed NAFTA market” means”

            It means one of the most restricted markets globally. Noticed you left out deliberately the different standards the US has. Nice UAW dodge.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            In other words, “closed NAFTA market” is gibberish.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      Niky You must not be reading the newspapers lately. There have been over 13 Japanese Auto Parts makers pleading guilty for price fixing in the USA. Imagine what goes on behind the secenes in Japan where the Japanese Government and Auto Industry have an altogether too cozy relationship.

      You want to build a pickup truck in the USA, no one stops you. Yet somehow, BMW, MB, VW, Fiat, Ford, GM, Kia, Hyundai etc. have not figured out how to build in Japan. Doesn’t that seem little strange? Yet these same companies build all over the world.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Volumes are too small to justify it.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Volumes are too small — and since there are no duties, the local production cost advantage is not so big, once you have secured the type approval.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The price-fixing, in this case, doesn’t help Japanese auto-makers any, since the price-fixing affected customers that included the Japanese manufacturers themselves.

        Building a new car brand inside Japan is pointless at this point. It’ll require a massive investment in terms of infrastructure, supply chain and research and development in new models (specifically keis) to compete for a tiny portion of the Japanese pie (and keis are too small to sell anywhere else).

        Japan is a mature market with too many local manufacturers and too little elbow room for growth, even when/if they streamline the approval process. Makes more sense to go after developing markets (like China) that don’t have a set preference yet.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    PH101 you should ask the question if Toyota and Honda are so good why do they buy such a dog like a VW. Could it be they like the VW a little bit better.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I believe that you misunderstood the post.

      Let’s try it another way: VW has double the market share in the US that it has in Japan. And it’s no secret that VW is struggling in the US.

      Reality check: There are no particularly successful import badges in Japan. None. VW is the leader there, and its market share is horribly low.

      Understanding data requires context. The reality is that imports have little presence in Japan. Barriers help to explain some of this, although those are not the only factor.

      • 0 avatar
        romismak

        Barriers are important, but i don´t think it´s about barriers so much.

        1.factor – Japan have like 10 domestic brands, they can choose from million models from domestic brands

        2.factors – their domestic brands are gnerally cheaper, becuase are locally produces + have volume – dealerships, service and so on, also duties, tax for imports and so on

        3.factor – that´s why there is no point to buy volume-mainstream foreign brand over domestic japanese unless someone wants to own ,,german,, french, italian, american,british,swedish brand – that´s why i think VW is so popular, because it´s german. otherwise majority of imports are premium brands

      • 0 avatar
        mr_min

        Pch101, I want to challenge your assertions, “Reality check: There are no particularly successful import badges in Japan. None. VW is the leader there, and its market share is horribly low”
        I think you need to qualify this statement

        Is VW (or BMW) strategy in Japan market share or profit? Or to deliberately limit supply and drive up transaction price, and exclusivity of the brand?
        Because unless we understand VW internal strategy (ie Context)how can you interpret the data to say its horribly low.

        Its the old adage of is it better to sell 10 cars at $1000 profit or 5 cars at $2500 profit question? I don’t know the answer but I think market share is only a single data point that not everyone uses to measure success.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          BMW’s market share in Japan last year was 0.86%.

          BMW’s total sales for the year was under 54,000 units. BMW sells that many cars in the US in about two months.

          BMW can’t be earning much in Japan. In any case, BMW’s low volume is not part of a deliberate plan to withhold cars, but the byproduct of difficult market conditions and an unfavorable Japanese regulatory system. No import brands have meaningful market share in Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            In BMW’s case, it’s all market conditions. There is very little demand for premium cars, and in particular NON-HYBRID premium cars.

            You would by the Bimmer over a Crown for the style statement it makes. It’s not a nicer car. 0.86% finds that style to their liking.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Every now and then, there is a story on TTAC and I think to myself, “damn, I wish I could read Bertel’s thoughts on this.”

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      Mr. Hyptnotoad You know what BS would say. He would launch into a tirade that American cars are too big and that the steering wheel was on the wrong side even though nothing was mentioned concerning American cars or steering wheels. (His standard divert attention sctick) While no mention of the European brands that have been building fuel misers in the RHD configuration for years. Then he would then perform a Kabuki fan dance titled ”Market is too small for competitors” i.e. 5.38 million vehicles , with no explanation as to Fiat builds in Brazil (3.47 Million), and GM and Ford in Venezuela (72,000 units), even Toyota builds in Venezuela. Both the Brazilian and Venezuelan auto markets are smaller than Japan’s. Nothing at all would be mentioned concerning Kia/Hyundai being MIA in Japan, located just 140 miles away, especially when the Won lost almost ½ of its value to the Yen about 3 years ago making a $30, 000 cost about $15,000. How many reading these words would not purchase a $50K BMW for 25K if the exchange rate came to that? In Japan it did just that. Any currency converter will show this, see for yourself. http://www.xe.com

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Challenger Bertil had it right, Yes the steering wheel is on the wrong side(How many RHD, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Land Rovers, Lexus) are sold in the US?

        Yes Europeans have been making RHD vehicles but outside of Luxury vehicles, why would the Japanese care?

        Fiat does build in Brazil and Venezuela. Brazil huge market and huge tariffs, Venezuela small market huge tariffs.

        Hyundai/KIA are built by Koreans. Japanese/Koreans despise each other. Koreans have copied the Japanese.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          I would say the animosity is greater on the Korean side.

          -

          Europe and Japan have similarly small engines and cars, but they are quite different markets, and the customer profiles are diverse enough that Europe gets its own, separate versions of the Corolla and Civic (while Japan no longer gets the Civic… doesn’t fit the target market) and the engine loadouts are different.

          Cars that you think could cross-over, like the Toyota Aygo, are completely absent in Japan.

          Heck, it’s a perfect example of how the markets diverge. Europe gets the Aygo. For Japan, that car is too big. Instead, they sell the Daihatsu Mira, a much smaller car.

          For Asia, the Mira is way too small and underpowered. We instead have a Mira enlarged to the same size as the Aygo, but with more interior space, equipped with the Aygo engine, because the Mira’s motor is just too small for here.

          -

          Nothing crosses over completely perfectly. “Europeans” have little inherent advantage over “Americans”, who now build cars in Korea, Asia and China. They all build small cars that aren’t exactly the kind of small cars Japan wants. And nobody outside seriously wants Japan’s small cars. (We enthusiasts do, but we aren’t buying, so nobody listens to us).

          -

          Note: this is all about keis and minis… Japan does have bigger cars (and the huge Alphard does strangely well), but even their mainstream cars are smaller… the Aqua/Prius C is a hit there. Outside, not so much. Here in Asia, the Aqua just doesn’t work out… instead, we go for Euro-style diesel subcompacts or Toyota’s own Yaris/Vios sedan, instead.

        • 0 avatar
          billfrombuckhead

          All of Asia has hard feeling toward Japan just not the Koreas or China.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            All of Asia has hard feelings for the entire rest of Asia. This isn’t a one or two way street. It’s also a major problem for the planet in terms of the economic and security implications.

          • 0 avatar

            juicy sushi, You mean that Europeans don’t have a monopoly on imperial conquest and bigotry? I’m shocked, shocked!

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            All of Asia harbors bad feelings towards Imperial Japan.

            And a lot of it is pretty miffed about Abe’s ultranationalist posturing.

            But, let’s be clear: Southeast Asia, one of the hardest hit in the war, is happy to play host to a lot of Japanese factories. Hell, Vietnam has a lot of grudges to bear against the West, but they’re opening up to them.

            Korea and China (and, to some extent, Taiwan, since it’s also Chinese, in a way) not only bear a grudge, but they’re business rivals. Japan is a direct threat to them, which is why, despite their business dealings with each other, relations remain frosty.

            -

            In the meantime, Chinese military posturing has everyone on edge. Whatever trade relations the region has with China, nobody likes a bully. China may try to make it an issue of Japanese imperialism, but you can only throw your weight around for so long before you step on other toes. Even Vietnam (a longtime ally) is getting pissed.

            Japan was once a big bad. So was Germany. Out here, so were France, Britain, Spain and the UK, once. Until they were politely all thrown out. And yet, now, they’re valued business partners. History matters in the “do not repeat” sense, but what really matters is how those countries treat each other in the now. Japan is, politically, not a great neighbor, but China is even worse.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Asians often hold emnity for Asians of other ethnicities – the difference being is that there is no pan-Asian based racial superiority/bigotry.

            If anything, many Asians would treat a white person better than an Asian of a different ethnicity.

            Anyhow, with the tax hike, the %-share of foreign imports have dropped back down to 5-6%.

            I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if this is a temporary blip or will again be pretty much the norm.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Some of the terminilogy ie, mature market is being used here.

    I do think that this term is slightly misused. All ‘mature market’ are different based on what regulations and barriers affect their viability within a country.

    Mature markets are harder to access. But as we have seen in Australia over the past 30 years a mature market can transform.

    This transformation and shaping is achieved by a change in tariffs and regulations and the economics of a given market.

    The Japanese market as a ‘mature market’ will change with the changes to its barriers on imported vehicles. Just like the US market would change if the ‘poulet impot’ was removed.

    The Canadian’s will definitely change with their closer alignment with the Europeans.

    Mature markets should be termed OECD economies as this is a more accurate description. The use of the term ‘mature market’ tries to infer that the market is rigid and unchangeable.

    As I’ve stated the Japanese market will change so will other markets as FTAs are make globally.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Huge increase in Maserati sales in Japan! ROFL! The numbers involved are miniscule, almost a rounding error.

      BTW, Jeep was best selling American brand in Japan with 1868 units moved in the first quarter. Ford came in second with 1506 vehicles.

      For comparison, Jeep has sold almost 2800 units in Italy so far this year

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @dillfrombuckhead,
        I’m amaze you can turn on your computer and use the keyboard!

        Re-read what I have written.

        I’ll wait for your response.

        Hmmm…….here’s hint, overnight or fast changes?????? Who the f4ck stated that.

        Comprehension son, it’s a rare commodity this day and age and getting harder to find, isn’t it?

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    I am amazed you would claim to be in some sort of academia. What is it again you claim to be besides a RWNJ?

    BTW, Maserati sales were up even more in America!

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Chickentaxers are the auto blog equivalent of birthers!

  • avatar
    aliajackson

    Hello
    I think,this gonna change our world and creat a new modern japenese world, We european japan car import, Its been also record most japen cars imported here in Uk.I have also bought japen car from the local UK import dealer.


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