Category: Japan

By on August 2, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry production line - Image: ToyotaWe learned early in July that many of the early 2018 Toyota Camrys available in Toyota’s U.S. showrooms wouldn’t be built in Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant.

Through June, not a single one of the 2016 and 2017 Camrys sold in America were imported. But all of the 2018 Toyota Camrys sold in July came across the Pacific from Japan.

Granted, most of the Camrys leaving Toyota showrooms are still old new Camrys, not new new Camrys. Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2018 Mazda CX-8 - Image: MazdaFirst, we heard about the Mazda CX-8.

Then the Mazda CX-8 was spotted on the streets of Chicago, Illinois. Which is in the United States.

And then Mazda confirmed that the CX-8 would most definitely not be exported from Japan. As the CX-4 was a China-oriented model, the CX-8 would be geared towards a Japanese market for which the CX-9 is just too big. But then we heard the Mazda CX-8 might be exported from Japan, but only to Australia.

And now, with official imagery, it’s not difficult to understand why Mazda USA has no need for the CX-8. It looks almost exactly like a CX-9 with six fewer inches of length, five fewer inches of width, and a marginally lower roofline.

Americans do not need a smaller Mazda CX-9. Read More >

By on July 10, 2017

2017 INFINITI Q60 3.0t Sport - Image: InfinitiThey’re always bridesmaids, never the bride.

But after holding down the fort as America’s second-best-selling Japanese premium brand since surrendering to Lexus some two decades ago, Acura is now about to be bumped from its maid of honor position.

Scottie Pippen? Acura is quickly becoming Toni Kukoc.

After a record U.S. sales performance in 2016, Infiniti sales are rising faster than any other auto brand in America save for four niche-market luxury contenders. After trailing its Acura compatriot for 28 years, it’s past time for Infiniti to catch the bouquet. Read More >

By on July 10, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry production line - Image: ToyotaAs all-new 2018 Toyota Camrys begin to trickle into Toyota’s U.S. dealers over the coming weeks, take a close look at the VIN.

It’s viewable through the windshield on the driver’s side. See that first number? It’s likely a 4, which means this Camry was built in Georgetown, Kentucky.

But there’s a chance that the VIN on the new 2018 Camry sitting on your local Toyota dealer’s lot doesn’t begin with a number at all.

You’re looking at the once-coveted J-VIN. Ooh la la. Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

Toyota Century, image via eBay

Heads of state and other dignitaries typically like to ride around in large, sedan-shaped vehicles. Offerings like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and contemporary Rolls-Royce sedans have long been the go-to around the world. Of course, there are exceptions. For places like the United States, national pride dictates an American-made Cadillac or Lincoln.

The Japanese also have a strong sense of national pride, and for decades there was only one vehicle appropriate for heads of state and CEOs — the Toyota Century.

Now it’s gone.

Read More >

By on March 10, 2017

Tokyo Street

Japan has, once again, scoffed at U.S. demands for better access to its car market on Friday, setting the tone for next month’s unproductive talks on bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso are supposed to hash things out in April but, before they’ve even managed to exchange pleasantries, the table is being set for failure.

If you’re wondering who is to blame, there are plenty of places to point the finger. The U.S. government complained to the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, claiming there are “a variety of non-tariff barriers [that] impede access to Japan’s automotive market.”

Today, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, offered his rebuttal to reporters. “We do not impose import tariffs on cars, and we do not impose any non-tariff barriers,” he said.  Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

1993 Honda Crossroad, Image: Honda

The Japanese market is notorious for being closed to the outside world. It has forced successful U.S. companies to abandon the country, as Ford did recently, and propped-up sales of niche producer Porsche to outstrip sales of corporate giant General Motors. At first glance, it would seem Japanese buyers just don’t want cars built by companies outside the Land of the Rising Sun.

On this side of the Pacific, imports are so popular that domestic manufacturers attempted to make them their own multiple times. We’ve had Opels called Pontiacs and Buicks, Mitsubishis masquerading as Dodges, Toyotas and Suzukis selling as Geos, and Isuzus branded as Chevrolets.

But has it ever gone the other way? Have Japanese brands ever tried to appropriate the automotive culture of other countries to move the metal?

Read More >

By on March 10, 2016

1994 Chevrolet Impala SS Front  at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka Lemon Lot, Japan, Image: © 2016 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

When I started kicking tires and taking photos at the Fleet Activities Yokosuka Lemon Lot, I was hoping to document the dark underbelly of the Japanese Domestic scene. I figured I would find all sorts of bottom dwellers — you know, cars that should have been consigned to the junk pile years ago. That hasn’t been the case.

There are tons of large, respectable people movers on display and next to them are dozens of cheerful, little economy cars. Once in awhile we get a performance car, or at least something that could have been sporty if it had the right options, but I have yet to see any bestickered, black hooded, wanna-be drift cars. Finding interesting cars has been really difficult, so today I will show you something I have hitherto been ignoring – the imports. Read More >

By on March 9, 2016

Kreutzer JDM Supra

A few weeks ago, one of TTAC’s Best and Brightest asked for my thoughts on driving in Japan. It’s not the first time the topic has come up. There were several comments in response to the series that documented the importation of my Town & Country, but I’ve been content to avoid the subject up ’til now.

I’d like to say I’ve abstained explaining driving in Japan because I believe my silence fosters discussion. But there’s a truer reason: I dread the scrutiny that follows any article about Japan. I know from hard experience that every westerner who has ever set foot in the country is an expert on every subject, and they will come out of the woodwork to dispute everything I say.

Don’t believe me? Wait and see. Read More >

By on March 2, 2016

Thomas' Honda Mobilio sits beside his Chrysler Town & Country in Japan, Image: © 2016 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The Town & Country I worked so hard to import into Japan was supposed to be my wife’s. I had planned to buy whatever I wanted and, although I hadn’t quite decided on what that was going to be, classic Japanese iron was on my mind. The second-generation Toyota Soarer and the ’90s-era Toyota Celica GT-Four were leading candidates. I was having fun considering other options, too.

A second minivan, however, was not among them.

Read More >

By on February 19, 2016

Toyota Soarer Celica

I had another opportunity to visit United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka last week and, naturally, I brought along my camera for another visit to the “Lemon Lot.”

While my last visit noted the many people haulers for sale and focused on a pair of cheerful Toyota Fun Cargoes, this time, my attention was drawn to sportier fare. Read More >

By on February 5, 2016

Kreutzer Lemon lot 1

I had the opportunity this week to visit United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, a U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan originally established in 1866 by the Japanese Imperial Navy. The facilities are currently used to support and repair U.S. naval vessels assigned to the Western Pacific. On the day of my visit, there was a lot of activity and several warships along the waterfront, but I wasn’t there to enlist.

Instead, my motivation for visiting was much more mundane. I was there to eat tacos and check out the hoopties on the base lemon lot. Read More >

By on November 13, 2015

IMG_0269

It’s been another exhausting day and, after wasting precious time trying to write some sort of clever introduction, I’ve realized that there just isn’t any point in beating around the bush.

The windmill I set out to topple is thoroughly defeated and the Town and Country looks smart sitting in front of the house tonight wearing its new set of permanent Japanese plates.

I wish I could say it was a cake walk, that the Town and Country sailed through its Shaken without any difficulty, but, as usual, there were last minute problems.

Want to know more? Hit the jump for another episode of your favorite reality program: “Man Meets Bureaucracy.” Read More >

By on November 6, 2015

Kreutzer headlight install

Since the last installment in this series, my attempt to get the family Town & Country officially licensed here in Japan has slogged relentlessly forward.

After a week of such little progress that I saw no need to report upon it (action was limited to the receipt of my official approval from the recycle bureau), I can begin this by saying that over the past week important things are once again happening. Notice that I didn’t write: “Important progress has been made…” Read More >

By on October 23, 2015

Kreutzer T&C reveal

It’s Friday and once again it’s time for an update from Japan where my efforts to get my Town & Country licensed and street legal continue unabated.

Last week’s baby steps have led to modest results. My visit to the local police station netted me a parking permit on Tuesday and, although I am immensely self-satisfied at the results, I am aware that the permit’s issuance has started a 30 day countdown clock. If I cannot complete the entire registration process within that window, I will have to repeat this step of the process.

Naturally, I would rather avoid that. Read More >

Recent Comments

  • Augustin: Thanks. Although I’d say it’s not bubbling below the surface – it festers in plain sight....
  • VW4motion: Well done review of the A4.
  • dukeisduke: Yeah, because nobody here wants their crap anymore.
  • koreancowboy: Wow, I really dig this. I hope that this does well for VW.
  • ash78: Santa doesn’t have VSTOL capabilities. Most people don’t know that.

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