By on May 23, 2014

Nissan Teana

Though Japanese automakers are doing all they can to win over Chinese consumers, a study led by Bernstein Research found anti-Japanese sentiments among 51 percent of 40,000 surveyed may be a barrier to further success in the growing market.

The Wall Street Journal reports the nationalistic attitude toward Japan is highest in developing cities such as Changsha, Dongguan and Xian, where automakers hope to strike it rich in the future. Bernstein analyst Max Warburton adds that while the Japanese and their joint-venture parnters will do well in the near future, “the one thing that comes out most clearly is that most Chinese really want a German car… ultimately the market will belong to the Germans.”

In the near term, those surveyed found Japanese vehicles to be less expensive to own and more comfortable than German and American offerings, and superior to vehicles manufactured by South Korean automakers. Nissan, the nation’s largest Japanese brand, was described as being for older consumers with families who have lower incomes than other brands, as well.

Aside from nationalism, the Japanese may also have a hard time breaking into the premium market, with only 41 percent surveyed willing to pay over 300,000 yuan ($48,000) for a Japanese premium vehicle.

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20 Comments on “Study: 51 Percent Of Chinese Consumers Snub Japanese Vehicles...”

  • avatar

    China just needs to annex that damn little island nation already. They’ve got the wealth to co-opt the ruling families and the US will remain accommodatingly weak for at least the next 10 years of Democratic presidencies.

    Japanese tech will long be superior to anything the Chinese can steal and then ruin through corruption. So just buy them and let them be a hated but productive province of Great China. Kind of like what California is to us.

    • 0 avatar

      @Kenmore “the US will remain accommodatingly weak for at least the next 10 years of Democratic presidencies.” Yes we need another president like George Bush and the wars to got with him. Don’t like a country, manfacture some lies to justify it and then invade.

      As for California, did you ever think, and I use the term think losely for you, that the reason so many live in California, is that it is a nice place to live? I know Rush and FOX NEWS say different, but millions say different.

      • 0 avatar

        Let’s see, you got Bush, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News in there, but you forgot to use the term “wingnut” or accuse anyone of being a redneck.


  • avatar

    I wonder for how many of those surveyed are actually in the market for an imported vehicle and can afford one?

    In a country (Korea) where anti-Japanese sentiment is even more widespread, I’ve seen an vast increase in uptake in Japanese cars over the past two years. Lexuses, Toyota, Hondas and Nissans are popping up everywhere. There are two chauffeured Lexus LSs in the shared basement garage of my “villa” right now.

    OTOH, I have cousins that do have anti-Japanese sentiments and go off on the occasional rant how they’d never buy Japanese but they’re usually ones driving around in crapboxes or using public transportation.

    • 0 avatar

      I read lots of surveys of Chinese opinions. They’re volatile, goofy and always delivered to the questioners with local ramifications firmly in mind.

      If you were a Chinese with one leg tentatively on the social ladder, would you say anything out of line with your best guess as to what the local party branch wants to hear?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    An acquaintance doctor of mine, has always told me that the key to avoid or minimize scarring on a bad wound is proper and meticulous treatment within the first couple of days. With emphasis on “proper and meticulous”.

    Germany spent the next 10 or 15 years after WW2 correcting its Nazi sins. It was a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the actual European Union. It has built extensive museums and monuments to the holocaust. This atonement has allowed Germany to better integrate with its former European conquests. There is still some resentment over Germany’s economic dominance over Europe, and its Nazi past will surface from time to time (like in Greece during the recent economic meltdown), but in general Germany has successfully integrated with the rest of Europe.

    Not so with Japan. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I’m not aware of any monument or museum describing the Japanese atrocities in Southeast Asia in general, and in China in particular. The issue of Korean “comfort women” has only reluctantly been accepted. On Hiroshima, the focus is on the horrible suffering of the atomic holocaust -a very valid concern, I may add-, but fail to improperly explain that the suffering vested on the Japanese civilians was a direct consequence of its government aggressive and militaristic policies.

    Small wonder that the wounds still hurt and fester.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’d like the excruciating detail of how the Japanese right was able to stonewall a German-style atonement, read John Dower’s “Embracing Defeat”.

      Especially interesting was how Hirohito was nearly convinced to abdicate immediately after the armistice by his own more progressive advisers. MacArthur vehemently opposed and defeated that with some risibly apocalyptic warnings to Washington of the American troop and materiel commitment necessary to put down the mass Japanese hysteria that would surely follow a dethronement of the emperor.

      But Dower does a thoroughly convincing job of showing how the bulk of Japanese citizens would have gladly seen the emperor hung like Mussolini if only they could get enough to eat and their economy rebuilt. They were in a completely plastic state of desperation.

      Japan is today exactly what MacArthur wanted it to be, an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” for American interests in the Pacific. Any systemic self-purging ala Germany was never on the agenda.

  • avatar

    It may be time for Japanese automakers to buy out and use old American nameplates like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, etc., and advertise their American heritage. It wouldn’t cost that much to set up shell companies in the U.S., owned by their Japanese parent and market the cars throughout Asia – China isn’t the only country with a grudge against the Japanese, though China’s market is the biggest prize.

  • avatar

    So 51% of those surveyed wouldn’t purchase a Japanese car, but:

    “only 41 percent surveyed willing to pay over 300,000 yuan ($48,000) for a Japanese premium vehicle.” So thats only 8% of the people who would purchase a Japanese car who are unwilling to make it premium.

    That’s pretty good. I’m sure Toyota wishes it has those stats on premium in the US.

    Note: In a country with a huge population like China, 40,000 is not a statistically significant sample.

    • 0 avatar

      “40,000 is not a statistically significant sample.”

      Truth. That’s not even a small town, more like a smuggling camp.

    • 0 avatar

      Truth be known, if it were done properly, a sample of 40,000 is huge, enough to be reliable for any country. Of course, if it were done sloppily, then no go. Population size is relatively unimportant. Even less so for a stratified sample. It shows up a square root in the relevant equation.

  • avatar

    I’m not buying those results. The politically correct answer to a survey is, “I’ll never buy”, but Chinese are no different than the rest of us. Despite old grudges, when they finally do lay out the cash, they want the best value for the money.

    And from my observations more than half their Chinese American cousins are owners of Japanese cars. A significant influence I’d say.

    Finally where would the Chinese industry be without the Japan automaker’s early input that spawned all those Xiali taxicabs and other mini cars, vans, fold down trucks, and cookie cutter pickups?

  • avatar

    That’s funny…you’d have thought that the Chinese would have laughed-off that whole “Rape of Nanking” thing.

    Note to Japanese auto makers: Don’t worry little guys…the course and trajectory of capitalism verses nationalism is a function of time where the farther into the future you move the less people give a damn about principled stances and moral value and other silly things. A simple example of that would be how the Americans used to see communism as The Great Red Menace but since China has many cheap goods to buy, it’s an American National Security matter to single-handedly build their military into one of the most capable on earth vis-à-vis purchases of cheap goods from Walmart and the like. So you see, communism isn’t evil now, it’s a teddy bear and a bag of cheap underwear! Time is on YOUR side….that is until lack of population growth leads to self extinction which is a whole other set of issues.

  • avatar

    If we asked in the US “do 51% of consumers snub the Detroit Three” … wait, the combined GM / Ford / Fiat market share is 46.2% so a whopping 53.8% of Americans do snub them!

    The last time I checked (earlier this year) only GM and VW had double-digit market shares in China, Toyota was far behind. I think they would be absolutely delighted if 49% of Chinese considered their brands when they went to make a purchase!!

  • avatar

    Big deal, 95% of the world wouldn’t buy a Chinese car!

    The truth is, I would like to not support Japanese automobiles either. As an American, I would prefer to give my money to domestic car companies, but with all the recalls and durability issues, I think Japanese vehicles are better investments.

    I drive a ’02 Honda Civic that still runs as well as the day I bought it. Apart from routine oil changes, it doesn’t need maintenance and it only costs about $25/month to insure (from Insurance Panda). It has great gas mileage and although its a 13 year old car, I still don’t see myself needing to purchase a new vehicle in the next 5 years or so.

    • 0 avatar

      Why do you assume a Civic or an (Honda Acura) MDX is not an “American” car? Yes, the corporate HQ is still in Japan. But manufacturing and engineering for many of their core vehicles are in the US. Ditto Toyota – they’ve 1000 engineers outside Ann Arbor MI. Honda has a similar number (probably more, they started early but they’re quiet about it) in Ohio.)

      Drawing boundaries is hard. I visited ArcelorMittal (in December 2013 as a judge for the Automotive News PACE supplier innovation award ( They worked with Magna COSMA to develop hot stampings for the MDX. So here we have an Indian company using old R&D done in Belgium with applied engineering in Chicago and production engineering in Ohio, working with the Detroit-area office of a Canadian company, working with Ohio-based engineers for a US development team for a vehicle of a Japanese company for a vehicle assembled in the US, with steel made in Indiana. How could you be more international – and in the end more American? – than that? Virtually all of the jobs are US-based.

  • avatar

    ===Why do you assume a Civic or an (Honda Acura) MDX is not an “American” car? Yes, the corporate HQ is still in Japan. But manufacturing and engineering for many of their core vehicles are in the US. Ditto Toyota – they’ve 1000 engineers outside Ann Arbor MI. Honda has a similar number (probably more, they started early but they’re quiet about it) in Ohio.)===

    These are Japanese car brands where a majority of the value added profit goes. Just as an antebellum cotton plantation wasn’t a black run organization even though the number of slaves was always higher than the number of whites running them, it matters where the value added profit is from.

    Those are Japanese brands.

    Do you think you could find a Mexican who believes that Ford is a Mexican car because it is assembled there? Geez.

    • 0 avatar

      Engineers aren’t paid minimum wage … parts are largely NAFTA as well. I’m not talking about just an assembly plant screwing together imported parts, you’re a couple of decades out of date.

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