Automotive imports to China were down 11% in the first six months of 2013, to 526,000 cars, according to China’s largest import dealer group. That wasn’t the only bad news luxury car importers got.
Last week, I had a few very interesting discussions with a few very famous people, and I should not keep them to myself. The discussions were about one of my pet peeves, the supposedly closed Japanese car market, and the allegedly manipulated Japanese currency. Some very knowledgeable people I talked to were convinced it’s true. Other very knowledgeable folks said it’s utter baloney. In a rare display of balanced reporting, I will bring you both. And as they say, we purport, you decide.
For long, Detroit automakers explained their miserable sales numbers in Japan with somersaulting logic: “Our sales numbers are so miserable in Japan, because the Japanese market is closed to imports. Proof: Our miserable sales numbers.”
German carmakers in the meantime, notably Volkswagen, do not complain at all. They control 80 percent of Japan’s growing import market. Volkswagen’s small Up! turned into an especially hot seller, and Volkswagen’s executives in Japan emphatically deny that the market is closed.
Now, the Detroit Three are back in Japan with a revolutionary strategy: (Read More…)
Many people don’t realize that most of the “import” cars bought and sold in America no longer roll off a boat, but off an assembly line somewhere in the American heartland. Or at least in the North American heartland. It comes as an even bigger surprise that these cars are one of America’s most successful export products, going from American ports to many countries in the world – where people often are likewise ignorant of the car’s American origin. (Read More…)
“No, Japan is not a closed market, come on, it has zero percent duty on cars.” Such spoke Yasuo Maruta, Communications Director of Volkswagen Japan, today at Volkswagen’s Tokyo offices. Volkswagen Group sold 66,000 cars in the first ten months of the year in Japan, and is expected to sell roughly 80,000 by the end of the year, making it Japan’s largest car importer, a title it held for as long as I can remember.
Maruta’s employer wants to enlarge its footprint in Japan. (Read More…)
Detroit carmakers continue telling their fairy tale of the closed Japanese market, and their UAW members eagerly hang on their lips. Both don’t want to admit that their products are largely unsalable in Japan, and they blame the mythical bad Nipponese wolf instead. At the same time, sales of imported cars are up for the third straight month in Japan. Sales of imports were 35,841 in September, the highest since September 1996, data released by the Japan Automobile Importers Association shows. (Read More…)
Renault has realized a new trend: Imports are hot in Japan. Nissan established a new company, Renault Japon Co., Ltd., to import and sell Renault vehicles in Japan, effective April 2, 2012. Previously, Renaults were sold in Japan by a division of Nissan.
While American automakers sit sulking in a corner and complain about mythical import restrictions to Japan, European makers are looking back at a great year exporting their cars to the island nation. While the Japanese market as a whole dropped 14 percent, imports to Japan rose 22.5 percent. (Read More…)
When we talked about Japanese auto sales in 2011, we told you that sales of imported cars were missing, and that they would be available today. They are. Aided by a shortage of domestic cars and a strong yen, Japanese connected with their inner gaijin and bought 22.5 percent more imported cars in 2011 than in the year before. According to data released by the Japan Automobile Importers Association, 275,644 foreign-built vehicles entered the allegedly closed Japanese market, gaining a market share of 10.3 percent. (Read More…)
One question that Bertel and I find ourselves returning to again and again in our regular conversations is “what will be the first Chinese-made car sold in North America?” We’ve agreed for some time that the groundbreaking first Chinese-made import would come from an established non-Chinese brand, rather than one of the many newer Chinese brands, but our usual suspects typically ranged from GM to Volvo (EV maker Coda builds what are essentially “knock down” Chinese made-cars, but technically they qualify as US assembled, as does Wheego). I don’t think the name “Honda” ever came up in these discussions, but sure enough, the NY Times reports
the Japanese automaker Honda is crossing the threshold by importing subcompact cars into Canada from one of its plants in China. This month, Honda Canada began receiving its smallest model, the Fit, from China instead of Japan, as part of a strategy to produce more vehicles outside its home country.
The decision allows Honda to eke out higher profit in a segment of the auto market where margins are extremely thin, especially since the high value of the yen cuts into all Japanese automakers’ overseas operations.
“The yen has been getting stronger and stronger,” Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president of Honda Canada, said on Tuesday.
Of course, Honda has yet to bring a Chinese-made Fit to the US, where antipathy towards Chinese products is greater and automotive diversity is lesser than in the Great White North. Also, the importation of Chinese Fits is seen as a temporary response to the high Yen, while Honda builds a new plant in Mexico for Fit production, scheduled to open in 2014. Still, this is a significant development, presaging the inevitable importation to the US of Chinese-built vehicles.
The Japanese car market is anything but closed, Toshiyuki Shiga, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said yesterday. Vis-a-vis The Nikkei [sub], Shiga basically repeated what we had said all along, and he used the same line of reasoning that doesn’t seem to register with some blockheaded parties:
“Import duties are zero, and there are no regulations or procedures that block American cars. European vehicle imports are increasing.”
Shiga should know. He is COO of Nissan, which quietly turned into Japan’s largest car importer on a brand basis for the year, only to fall back to number 2 in October on strong imports of the Volkswagen Group. Shiga also asked the same question which I always use, usually without receiving an answer: (Read More…)
Though we owe Jalopnik a few well-deserved raspberries for this week’s inane tease-n-reveal of some wildly overhyped and under-delivering “renderings” of the 2014 C7 Corvette (look it up if you must), we’ve actually got to tip our hats to the Gawker site for finding a truly relevant petition at the White House website. The petition’s goal?
Stop using Homeland Security funds to seize imported vehicles, and change the DOT/EPA exemption to 15 years.
The Department of Homeland Security spends a shockingly disproportionate amount of its budget not on security initiatives, but on customs seizures. In particular, importers of grey-market vehicles have been targeted by monies taxpayers have intended to be used to secure our country against terrorism and terrorist activity. We call upon the Executive Branch to immediately cease this wasteful activity, and furthermore to change the DOT/EPA exemption time on grey-market vehicles from 25 years to 15 years (to match the vehicle regulations of Canada), recognizing that the 25-year rule was enacted due to support from special interests such as Mercedes Benz North America.
This is the kind of cause that we can absolutely get behind. In fact, if TTAC and Jalopnik combined can’t get under 22,000 readers to sign it… well, it will be Jalopnik’s fault. They’re a much bigger site. Seriously though, please sign this. There’s no guarantee that this will change anything, but as long as future generations can grow believing that they too might be able to someday import some awesomely clapped-out foreign jalopy that will demand all of their spare time and money just to stay running, well… the world just might become a better place.
Done signing the petition? Why not tell us what 15 year-old car you would import if you could?
According to U.A.W. talking points, the Japanese car market is closed to foreign imports, and the yen is kept artificially low. Utter insanity on both counts. The customs duty on new cars imported to Japan is exactly zero, and the yen is so obscenely expensive that Japanese carmakers openly threaten to leave and privately are shifting as much production as possible out of the country. Unbeknownst to talking point readers, Japan has had a thriving car import market for decades. For more than a year, imports to Japan showed an uptick. TTAC has been taking about this for quite a while, here, then here and also here.
Today, The Nikkei [sub] did wise up to the fact that imports are getting hotter in Japan despite a tepid new car market. The Nikkei sent a reporter to an Audi showroom, interviewed a BMW customer, and noted a societal change: “My wife prefers foreign cars, so that’s why we bought one,” a bank employee who traded his domestic car for a BMW told The Nikkei. “They have lower fuel efficiency than Japanese cars, but that is not a big problem because we drive only on weekends.”
Now what’s really going on with imports to Japan? Let’s look at it a little closer. (Read More…)
Dear Sajeev and Steve,