The Truth About Cars » Imports http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Imports http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Chinese-Built Volvo S60L Bound For US Market In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chinese-built-volvo-s60l-bound-us-market-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chinese-built-volvo-s60l-bound-us-market-2015/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927706 CEOs and senior execs going on shopping runs to Staples may soon be able to leave their MKTs at the parking garage when the Chinese-made Volvo S60L arrives next year. Automotive News reports Volvo plans to ship 5,000 units to the U.S. annually, with sales to begin in H2 2015. The move will save the […]

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Volvo-S60L_P

CEOs and senior execs going on shopping runs to Staples may soon be able to leave their MKTs at the parking garage when the Chinese-made Volvo S60L arrives next year.

Automotive News reports Volvo plans to ship 5,000 units to the U.S. annually, with sales to begin in H2 2015. The move will save the Sino-Swede automaker considerable cash, as the vehicles will be imported from a factory not involved in a joint venture like Volvo’s competitors, according to CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

He also says Volvo will position the S60L as an “executive car,” offering more features and options in its 112.5-inch wheelbase than the S60, which will take its place as a sportier variant.

As for quality, product development chief Peter Mertens said the longer S60 fared better than the European-built standard model based on the company’s internal quality audits.

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Australians Favoring Imports Over Domestics In Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/australians-favoring-imports-over-domestics-in-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/australians-favoring-imports-over-domestics-in-study/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 13:35:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=768826 In a study conducted by Roy Morgan Research, one in eight Australian consumers prefer locally made vehicles for their next new-car purchase today, down from one in four a decade earlier. WardsAuto reports that while cars such as the Holden Commodore, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Camry are at the top of the list for Australian-built […]

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Mirage (6)

In a study conducted by Roy Morgan Research, one in eight Australian consumers prefer locally made vehicles for their next new-car purchase today, down from one in four a decade earlier.

WardsAuto reports that while cars such as the Holden Commodore, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Camry are at the top of the list for Australian-built new vehicle purchases, the overall decline in is due to the kind of vehicles made in Australia, as Roy Morgan Research Automotive Account director Jordan Parks explains:

Over the last 10 years, Australian car-buying preferences have changed substantially – with the small-car market in Australia now clearly the dominant segment. SUVs are also taking share from the once-dominant large-car segment, with more than 20% of buyers now after either a medium or large SUV.

Parks also adds that more options available to Australian consumers, a stronger Australian dollar, and decreasing tariffs also are among the growing number of factors fueling the import boom:

When combining the increase in choice, changing vehicle preferences, higher local labor costs, strong Australia dollar, increasing petrol prices and decreased tariff protection, it is not surprising to see the gradual demise of the locally built large car.

With the end of the local industry coming over the horizon, Parks believes that the tariffs that once protected the industry would all but vanish, allowing new-car prices to fall to more affordable levels as a result of savings of up to $1 billion AUD in annual fees paid by importers.

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Toyota Australia Engine Plant Moving To Thailand After 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/toyota-australia-engine-plant-moving-to-thailand-after-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/toyota-australia-engine-plant-moving-to-thailand-after-2017/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 16:30:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751065 Sources close to Toyota say the engine plant in Altona, Australia will likely be relocated to Siam Toyota Manufacturing in Thailand once the automaker ceases Australian manufacturing operations in 2017. GoAuto reports that while the company hasn’t officially announced what will happen to the $331 million AUD engine plant thus far, executives inside Toyota Australia […]

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Toyota Altona Engine Plant

Sources close to Toyota say the engine plant in Altona, Australia will likely be relocated to Siam Toyota Manufacturing in Thailand once the automaker ceases Australian manufacturing operations in 2017.

GoAuto reports that while the company hasn’t officially announced what will happen to the $331 million AUD engine plant thus far, executives inside Toyota Australia have Thailand in mind as a potential new home for some of the tooling currently in use. The factory exports 16 percent of its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines to Thailand and Malaysia for fitment in Camry and Camry Hybrid models.

Another reason for the move to Thailand? While Toyota Australia builds 100,000 Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion models annualy — 70 percent for export markets, such as the Middle East — Toyota Thailand builds 880,000 units annually, exporting a wide range of vehicles to Australia and Association of Southeast Asian Nations — or ASEAN — member states. Furthermore, a free trade agreement between the two countries means vehicles, such as the HiLux and the Corolla, from Thailand enter Australian ports duty-free.

The plant, partially funded by a $63 million AUD contribution from Australia’s Green Car Innovation Fund and opened at this time last year, will close halfway through its expected lifespan of 10 years in 2017, shedding 2,500 jobs with thousands more down the local supply chain in the process.

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China Imports Fewer Cars, Government Threatens Investigation of Foreign Luxury Brands “Profiteering” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/china-imports-fewer-cars-government-threatens-investigation-of-foreign-luxury-brands-profiteering/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/china-imports-fewer-cars-government-threatens-investigation-of-foreign-luxury-brands-profiteering/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498377 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 the official Xinhua News Agency telegraphed possible government restrictions on imports with an editorial accusing foreign carmakers of […]

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Bloomberg photo

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 the official Xinhua News Agency telegraphed possible government restrictions on imports with an editorial accusing foreign carmakers of making exorbitant profits on their luxury car sales in China and saying that the foreign companies should face an anti-trust investigation. While government restrictions will undoubtedly affect future sales, the current decline is attributed to slower economic growth in China.

In the first six months of 2013, BMW’s imports dropped 18% from last year to 84,000 vehicles, while imports from were down 23 percent to 53,000 vehicles. Audi, the favored brand of Chinese officials, declined 3%t to 45,000 units.

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Imports To Japan Strong, Despite Claims By Detroit That The Market Is Closed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/imports-to-japan-strong-despite-claims-by-detroit-that-the-market-is-closed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/imports-to-japan-strong-despite-claims-by-detroit-that-the-market-is-closed/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 16:21:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494463   And here, by popular demand, the sales of cars imported to Japan in June, and for the first half year of 2013, as published by the Japan Automobile Importers Association.  For those with open eyes and mind, a few items quickly become clear: Imports to Japan, June 2013 June 2013 vml]>vml]>   January – […]

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Ford Setagaya Dori

 

And here, by popular demand, the sales of cars imported to Japan in June, and for the first half year of 2013, as published by the Japan Automobile Importers Association.  For those with open eyes and mind, a few items quickly become clear:

Imports to Japan, June 2013
June 2013 vml]>vml]>

  January – June 2013
2013 Share 2012 Growth 2013 Share 2012 Growth
Volkswagen Grp 10,075 29.1% 8,573 17.5% 49,660 29.1% 43,103 15.2%
Volkswagen 6,662 19.2% 5,751 15.8% 32,842 19.2% 28,897 13.7%
Audi 2,930 8.5% 2,403 21.9% 14,356 8.4% 11,974 19.9%
Bentley 16 0.0% 19 -15.8% 93 0.1% 79 17.7%
Lamborghini 15 0.0% 19 -21.1% 96 0.1% 78 23.1%
Bugatti 1 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 2 -50.0%
Porsche 451 1.3% 381 18.4% 2,272 1.3% 2,073 9.6%
BMW Grp 6,605 19.1% 6,231 6.0% 29,329 17.2% 27,606 6.2%
BMW 4,867 14.1% 4,681 4.0% 20,887 12.23% 19,284 8.3%
BMW MINI 1,724 5.0% 1,532 12.5% 8,298 4.86% 8,242 0.7%
BMW Alpina 4 0.0% 12 -66.7% 96 0.06% 40 140.0%
Rolls Royce 10 0.0% 6 66.7% 48 0.03% 40 20.0%
Daimler 5,943 17.2% 4,672 27.2% 25,007 14.6% 20,289 23.3%
Mercedes-Benz 5,735 16.6% 4,384 30.8% 24,339 0.14 19,669 23.7%
smart 208 0.6% 287 -27.5% 662 0.00 609 8.7%
Maybach 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 4 0.00 6 -33.3%
Unimog 0 0.0% 0 2 0.00 5 -60.0%
Nissan 3,235 9.3% 3,550 -8.9% 20,194 11.8% 23,264 -13.2%
Fiat-Chrysler 2,343 6.8% 2,110 11.0% 9,363 5.5% 9,125 2.6%
Fiat 897 2.6% 644 39.3% 3,340 0.02 2,823 18.3%
Jeep 518 1.5% 595 -12.9% 2,246 0.01 2,461 -8.7%
Chrysler 399 1.2% 57 600.0% 1,194 0.01 334 257.5%
Alfa Romeo 385 1.1% 663 -41.9% 1,653 0.01 2,447 -32.4%
Dodge 59 0.2% 84 -29.8% 430 0.00 607 -29.2%
Ferrari 59 0.2% 42 40.5% 291 0.00 234 24.4%
Maserati 24 0.1% 19 26.3% 163 0.00 148 10.1%
Lancia 2 0.0% 6 -66.7% 46 0.00 71 -35.2%
Toyota 1,454 4.2% 1,466 -0.8% 8,477 5.0% 8,475 0.0%
Volvo 1,888 5.5% 1,624 16.3% 7,398 4.3% 6,681 10.7%
Mitsubishi 846 2.4% 0 7,841 4.6% 2 391950.0%
PSA Group 808 2.3% 940 -14.0% 4,416 2.6% 4,988 -11.5%
Peugeot 590 1.7% 627 -5.9% 2,983 0.02 3,080 -3.1%
Citroen 218 0.6% 313 -30.4% 1,433 0.01 1,908 -24.9%
JLR Group 445 1.3% 225 97.8% 2,291 1.3% 1,267 80.8%
Jaguar 101 0.3% 108 -6.5% 499 0.00 537 -7.1%
Land Rover 344 1.0% 117 194.0% 1,792 0.01 730 145.5%
Ford 335 1.0% 309 8.4% 2,146 1.3% 1,858 15.5%
General Motors 269 0.8% 301 -10.6% 1,580 0.9% 1,577 0.2%
Cadillac 119 0.3% 125 -4.8% 772 0.00 665 16.1%
Chevrolet 127 0.4% 151 -15.9% 692 0.00 734 -5.7%
Hummer 12 0.0% 15 -20.0% 58 0.00 116 -50.0%
GMC 10 0.0% 8 25.0% 46 0.00 54 -14.8%
Pontiac 1 0.0% 1 0.0% 7 0.00 7 0.0%
Buick 0 0.0% 5 0.00
Saturn 0.0% 1 -100.0% 0.00 1 -100.0%
Renault 201 0.6% 353 -43.1% 1,606 0.9% 1,525 5.3%
Suzuki 101 0.3% 3 3266.7% 930 0.5% 413 125.2%
Lotus 27 0.1% 16 68.8% 168 0.1% 134 25.4%
Aston Martin 25 0.1% 12 108.3% 118 0.1% 65 81.5%
Mclaren 6 0.0% 0 43 0.0% 1 4200.0%
Honda 6 0.0% 10 -40.0% 39 0.0% 153 -74.5%
Hyundai 5 0.0% 6 -16.7% 27 0.0% 43 -37.2%
Rover 3 0.0% 4 -25.0% 22 0.0% 34 -35.3%
Morgan 2 0.0% 0 18 0.0% 5 260.0%
MG 0 0.0% 0 5 0.0% 5 0.0%
Scania 0 0.0% 5 0.0%
Saab 1 0.0% 6 -83.3% 3 0.0% 14 -78.6%
Autobianchi 1 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 1 100.0%
Kia 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 2 0.0% 1 100.0%
PROTON 0 0.0% 1 0.0%
Detomaso 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
RUF 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Ssangyong 0.0% 0 0.0% 2 -100.0%
Zagato 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Others 7 0.0% 5 40.0% 37 0.0% 34 8.8%
Total  34,631 100.00 30,417 13.9% 170,728 100.00 150,668 13.3%
Source: Japan Automobile Importers Association
  • Complaints of a closed market are nonsense. Quite evidently, car imports to Japan are alive and well.
  • Imported cars are the best performing segment in Japan. Imports were up 13.9 percent in June, while the total market was down 10.8 percent, and while even sales of the vaunted kei cars were down 2.3 percent.
  • The Volkswagen Group continues to be Japan’s largest importer. Three out of ten cars imported to Japan come from the Wolfsburg-based company.
  • Compared to the cars imported by European makers, imports by Ford and GM are anemic. Ford and GM are the loudest complainers about closed markets and onerous technical standards. At the same time, they omit that most of their cars come in under Japan’s Preferential Handling Procedure. It allows small series of up to 2,000 units into the country with the barest of paperwork.
  • The Preferential Handling Procedure opens the door to imports which would never make it beyond U.S. borders. America does not have this procedure. Europe does. Japan’s borders are even open for a handful of Hummers, Pontiacs, and the odd Saturn. Try bringing a non-federalized  car to the U.S., and you will experience a boarded-up market.

The numbers also help to debunk a few rumors. Commenter BD2 said that “roughly half the imports are actually Japanese models” built elsewhere and imported into Japan. And that for the other half, “the vast majority are German luxury autos.” Bunk.

  • Japanese makers had 21 percent of all imports in the first six months of the year. For them, it was cheaper to produce elsewhere and to import, while being exposed to the same importation rules and zero percent tariffs as foreign makers.
  • Japan’s best-selling imports are small compact cars made by Volkswagen, the Golf, the Polo, and lately the Volkswagen Up!

While growing, the market for imported cars remains limited in Japan.  Four out of ten cars sold in Japan are 0.6 liter minivehicles. Importers have no offer in the kei car segment. To drive an imported car is a display of individualism in Japan. Individualism is not big in Japan, a country where people want to blend in, not stand out.  A low share of imported cars is no proof of a closed market. It simply is a reflection of customer preferences.

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Eamonn Fingleton Mad At TTAC, Says Japanese Car Market IS Closed, Yen IS Manipulated. Google Streetview MUST Be Wrong http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/edmonn-fingleton-mad-at-ttac-says-japanese-car-markey-is-closed-yen-is-manipulated-google-streetview-must-be-wrong/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/edmonn-fingleton-mad-at-ttac-says-japanese-car-markey-is-closed-yen-is-manipulated-google-streetview-must-be-wrong/#comments Sun, 23 Jun 2013 10:33:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493062 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 […]

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Ford Setagaya Dori

Open: The Ford dealer down the road from me. Go there yourself.

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.

Ford Yahara Service

Open: Service entrance of Ford in Yahara. Go there yourself.

On Friday, I was berated by famous author Eamonn Fingleton.  We have a lot in common. He is only slightly older than me, he has the same affliction for Japanese women, and he lived in Japan probably longer than I did. He became famous for his 1995 book titled “Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. By the Year 2000.” Ooops, did not happen. And most likely never will. Didn’t matter, the book sold well.

Fingleton said he had “some complaints from my readers about your coverage of U.S. – Japan,” which I could not find, but maybe my Google is different from his. Let’s stipulate that some did complain. Even some TTAC readers frequently do. Fingleton called me and lambasted me for hours on end, and for saying that the Japanese market is wide open, and that the yen is still obscenely expensive.

Fingleton thinks the yen should get even pricier, an opinion I would share if my Japanese wife would import luxury goods to Japan. Wikipedia says Fingleton’s wife Yasuko Amako is in that business. (I am only intruding in Fingleton’s family life, because on Skype, he doubted that TTAC can pay a decent wage, and that I must make my money elsewhere. Well, the money truly is quite indecent – especially when converted from dollar to yen, my bank laughs at Fingleton and Ford, and won’t give me more yen for the buck. And sadly, no check from elsewhere. Traditionally, TTAC is a gentleman’s sport, it’s been that since Farago founded it.)

Ford Yahara Main

Open: Ford in Yahara. The typical Toyota dealer would be much smaller. Go there yourself.

As far as cars go, Fingleton flogged the old tired horse: Import sales in Japan low, ergo the market must be closed. I did not impress Fingleton with my answer that short of forcing Japanese customers at gunpoint to buy a Chevy, I see no prospects of drastically elevated imports to Japan.

Fingleton then said  “Isn’t it odd that Renault doesn’t sell cars in Japan?”  I said that would indeed be odd, because last time I looked, they did, about as many or as few as Ford. Asked why that would be the case, I professed ignorance and recommended to call Renault. “They aren’t talking to me,” Fingleton whined. I suggested to call Volkswagen, they are Japan’s biggest importer, despite suggestions that the market is closed. “They aren’t telling me anything either,” Fingleton cried. I am just a lowly blogger, but  a good journalist simply keeps asking. I received the answer from Volkswagen  in Tokyo that “no, Japan is not a closed market.”

Like all closed market propagandists, Fingleton cannot deliver evidence of a closed market. Failure to grab more market share by foreign makers appears to be enough cause for the noted author and columnist to render a guilty verdict. I would not want him on my jury, should I ever be in court. He’d render me guilty for spousal murder while my wife is off to the 7-11: “She’s not here. That should be proof enough.”

Chrysler Kan-Pachi

Open: Chrysler Kan-pachi. Go there yourself.

Nobody has found hard evidence for Japan closing its markets to Japanese cars, or to manipulate their yen.  With billions at stake, and with the Detroit carmakers having employed hordes of lobbyists and supposed think tanks, by now evidence should be found – if it only would be there.  But as long as there are people like Fingleton, Ford, and Forbes, facts don’t matter.  Don’t look at currency charts and car showrooms  though, that would only confuse you.

Nonetheless, I felt honored that such a famous author spent some 2 hours of his precious time to berate me, halfway around the world from Ireland to Tokyo, courtesy of (a little scratchy) Skype.

Fingleton is a great writer, especially when he writes about juicier topics. He knows a lot about current accounts and imbalances of trade, when it comes to cars, I would ask someone else. He was stumped when I mentioned the Chicken Tax. Nonetheless, we will probably hear more from Fingleton on the topic, it will be fun. Beating up Forbes beats battling with Carsqua.

At Forbes, Fingleton is one of the “about 1,000 unpaid and paid contributors from all walks of life,” who fill the Forbes blog with cheap (or mostly free) content. Fingleton also is in good company. The Forbes blog is home to one of our very dear friends, noted China expert and revered forecaster Gordon Chang.

Fingleton and Chang work the “doomsday forecasts that never happen” beat. Whereas Fingleton focuses on Japan, Chang focuses on China. In 2001, a year after the U.S. was not overtaken by Japan, ignoring Fingleton’s best-selling predictions, Gordon Chang published a book titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” In it, he predicted that China would implode by 2006, if not earlier, due to non-performing loans. Instead, non-performing house flippers in America caused a near-collapse of the American, and then of the world’s banking systems, and led to carmageddon.

In another book, Chang predicted that North Korea would rain nuclear missiles on Japan. As far as I can tell from Tokyo, that didn’t happen either. Nonetheless, I recommend Chang’s pieces – as a contrarian indicator. If you don’t do what he recommends, and if you bet on things Chang hates, you probably have one of the best investment advisers. Fingleton is one of those contrarians. In his book “In the Jaws of the Dragon: America’s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony,” he predicted that China would not implode, but overtake America, now that Japan did not. We’ll see how this prediction pans out.

chevrolet mitsuoka

Half open: Need Chevy service? Go there yourself.

Oh, and of course Forbes is also home to Bob Lutz.

The other gentleman I met last week also is of a similar age, and he is also married to a Japanese. As a former executive of MITI who now works at a Japanese car company, he knows the topic intimately. The talk was on deep background, I wish it wasn’t, he is a witty, outspoken and funny gentleman. When asked about the shrill rhetoric about manipulated currencies and closed markets, a lack of evidence notwithstanding, off-the-record-san smiled and said that this has been going on since  the 1980’s, and the tune has not changed. It’s a Good Thing - by the Fine Young Cannibals.

Since the disco era, Japan dropped their car import taxes to zero, it lets in foreign cars with a minimum of paperwork. In the early eighties, a dollar bought some 250 yen, today, it buys 98. All the while people, from Fingleton to Ford, keep claiming that the yen is undervalued and that the Japanese car market is closed. They do that until they are blue in their faces. It’s obsessive-compulsive behavior, and, such is the impression I received from my deep background chat partner, it is useless to argue with the patient.

When asked about what the Japanese side has to say to the broken record , the gentleman basically asked what else would there be to say.

After talking to a few high-ranking executives at Japanese carmakers, I get the impression that the more the U.S. side gets worked up about the issue, the more sanguine the Japanese side gets.  Trade pact or not, they don’t really care.

Most of their North American sales are cars made in North America. Honda estimates it will become a “net exporter” of automobiles from North America by 2014. Toyota expects to export more vehicles from North American plants than the Detroit 3 automakers, and foresees a future where all Toyota cars sold in U.S .may eventually be built here. Even the prospect of a falling chicken tax does not excite them. First, they think it will never happen. Second, they privately think imported Japanese pickups will see similar sales in the U.S. as imported Thunderbirds in Japan.

Ford Tama

Open: Ford in Tama. Go there yourself.

From the Japanese perspective, this looks like a trade war where only one side shows up to fight. The dogs are barking up trees that long have been turned into newsprint. Even that isn’t doing so well anymore.

Since rational arguments don’t seem to do it, I invite you on a tour of showrooms for American car brands in Japan. Through the miracles of Google Streetview, you can visit Tokyo stores of Detroit iron in the privacy of your laptop.

You will have to take my word for it that the stores are open, not closed. You will not get arrested when you go inside a Japanese showroom to buy an F-150 SuperCrew Cab, or a Camaro. They don’t have a shortage of cars. From the pictures and the stats, the only shortage there is seems to be that of customers.

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America To Increase Car Exports. With A Little Help From Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/america-to-increase-car-exports-with-a-little-help-from-toyota/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/america-to-increase-car-exports-with-a-little-help-from-toyota/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 19:07:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=479340   Contrary to lore, American cars are a hot export product that is in high demand abroad – as long as there are foreign badges on the Made in America cars.  For the first time, Toyota will ship U.S.-made Venza to Russia and China, says The Nikkei [sub]. Toyota will ship 4,000 Venza to Russia, […]

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Contrary to lore, American cars are a hot export product that is in high demand abroad – as long as there are foreign badges on the Made in America cars.  For the first time, Toyota will ship U.S.-made Venza to Russia and China, says The Nikkei [sub].

Toyota will ship 4,000 Venza to Russia, 1,000 to Ukraine, and “several thousand” to China. By 2014, Toyota expects to be exporting 150,000 vehicles a year from the U.S., 20 percent more than in 2012.

In December, TTAC reported that transplants export cars in surprising numbers. BMW exported 70 percent of the 276,000 cars it built 2011 in Spartanburg, SC, helping South Carolina overtake Michigan as the No. 1 exporter of automobiles. Mercedes-Benz exports half of its cars made at its Birmingham, Ala. plant to countries outside NAFTA. Honda wants to become a net exporter of American made vehicles. At Nissan, “the numbers are trending toward Nissan being a net exporter,” a spokesman in Yokohama said.

All these exports create American jobs for Americans in America, and they improve the American trade balance.  In a few minutes, UAW operatives will tell you it’s all wrong.

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Detroit 3 Return To Japan With A Revolutionary Strategy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/detroit-3-return-to-japan-with-a-revolutionary-strategy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/detroit-3-return-to-japan-with-a-revolutionary-strategy/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 19:07:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470503 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 […]

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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: Offer cars the market wants.

In Japan’s case, that’s smaller cars. “Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are gearing up to release smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles here to better compete against German automakers,” writes The Nikkei [sub].  If they fail, they can always go back to claiming that the market is closed.

  • At Ford, where big SUVs like the Explorer and Escape account for 80 percent of all of the 3,648 units the company imported to Japan this year, the big brutes will be joined by the Focus five-door hatchback next summer. Who knows, with a little success, maybe Ford will spend the money on a Japanese website with a menu and headlines in Japanese …
  • GM hopes the Cadillac ATS, to be brought to the country in March, will sway Japanese customers. Cadillac needs a little help with only 1,122 sold so far in Japan. Even the Yakuza are beginning to think that Escalades are too ostentatious, a contact in Kabukicho tells me.
  • Chrysler will launch the 0.9-liter Ypsilon compact this Saturday, its first new model in the Japanese market in four years. Now wonder the brand sold only 592 cars in Japan this year.

Together, the Detroit Three sold a total of around 12,000 vehicles here in the first 11 months of 2012,  something they clearly want to improve on in the coming year. German brands sold more than 160,000 cars so far this year in the allegedly closed Japanese market.

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America’s Hot Export Article: “Import” Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/americas-hot-export-article-import-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/americas-hot-export-article-import-cars/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 13:11:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469473   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 […]

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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.

Yesterday, we were surprised by the news that Honda aims to become a net exporter from North America in two years. Numbed by the PSTD of too much moronic electioneering, we often forget that “the American Auto Industry” also consists of names like Hyundai, Volkswagen, or Toyota. “Foreign” automakers employ more than an third of America’s autoworkers, who build more than a third of the Made in America cars.

What is very little known is that for many years, these foreign companies have been exporting an increasing number of the American-made cars. While bailed-out GM is busy creating jobs in China (this year alone, GM built some 2.6 million cars in China, vs. 1.9 million in the U.S.) foreign automakers do more to build export-based auto jobs in the US than the companies rescued in the bailout.

  • BMW exported 70 percent of the 276,000 cars it built 2011in Spartanburg, SC, helping South Carolina overtake Michigan as the No. 1 exporter of automobiles. BMW X3, X5, and X6 go from Spartanburg to 130 countries.
  • Mercedes-Benz exports half of its cars made at its Birmingham, Ala. plant to countries outside NAFTA.
  • Honda started exporting U.S. made Hondas 25 years ago. On Wednesday, the 1 millionth Honda automobile to be exported from the U.S. rolled off the line at the company’s Marysville Auto Plant. The 2013 Honda Accord EX-L Sedan is on its 8,000 mile way to South Korea. Since 1987, Honda has exported more than $22 billion worth of automobiles and components from the U.S. American Honda exports the Accord, CR-V, Civic, Odyssey, Pilot from its factories in the U.S.
  • At Nissan, “the numbers are trending toward Nissan being a net exporter,” a spokesman in Yokohama said. In 2012, Nissan exported 247,779 units from NAFTA, imported 418,248 and built 1,157,612 in the region, for a net import balance of 170,469 units. “The tipping point comes when we localize production of the next-generation Nissan Rogue in the U.S. at the end of 2013,” the spokesman said. Nissan is on pace to sell more than 140K Rogues in the U.S. this year. Once they are built stateside, they will reduce Nissan’s import number to less than 300,000, and with increased exports, Nissan could become a net exporter from North America in 2014. Nissan exports the Altima, Frontier, Maxima, Pathfinder, and X-Terra from its factories in the U.S.
  • Toyota began exporting U.S.-assembled vehicles in 1988, and now exports U.S.-assembled vehicles to 21 countries around the world. These exports are expected to increase in calendar year 2012 to more than 130,000 units – a 52% increase from last year and an all-time high for Toyota. The company began exporting Indiana-assembled Sienna minivans and Kentucky-assembled Camry sedans to South Korea last year. Other exports include the Kentucky-produced Avalon sedan, the Indiana-produced Highlander and Sequoia SUVs and the Texas-produced Tacoma and Tundra pick-up trucks. In November, Toyota announced the export of U.S.-assembled Venza crossovers to its distributor in South Korea.
  • Subaru exports the Legacy, Outback, and Tribeca from its factories in the U.S.

17 percent of the cars made at Japanese plants in the U.S. were exported in 2011 for a total of 259,908 units. This total is expected to increase drastically in 2012 and in the coming years.

Free trade agreements are a main driver behind these exports. Free trade agreements get rid of a small 2.5 percent tariff on auto imports to the U.S., but they also eliminate often much higher tariffs on auto imports to other countries. This, a low dollar, and volume production in the U.S. make a strong business case for exports from America. A free trade agreement between American and South Korea made transport of “Japanese” cars from America to Korea more attractive than shipping them the much shorter way from Japan.

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Volkswagen: “Japan Is Not A Closed Market.” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/volkswagen-japan-is-not-a-closed-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/volkswagen-japan-is-not-a-closed-market/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2012 18:05:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465905 “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 […]

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“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. As a contribution to Strategie 2018, Volkswagen alone wants to sell more than 100,000 cars in Japan. Together with Audi , that would amount to roughly doubling its sales.

Volkswagen is not worried about the non-tariff barriers alleged by the American Automotive Policy Council on behalf of its paymaster GM, Ford and Chrysler. American companies have for all intents and purposes given up on the Japanese market. Instead of selling cars, they sell fiction about closed markets, manipulated currencies and threatened U.S. jobs. All Detroit brands together sold a little over 10,000 units in the first 9 months in Japan, a fraction of Volkswagen Group’s imports.

Maruta has a hard time coming up with hurdles that may be in the way of successful imports. “Type approval procedures are much less of a problem than in the past,” says Maruta, while noting that Japan’s preferential Handling Procedure allows small series of up to 2,000 units into the country with the barest of paperwork.   Pressed hard to find something, he says that his company currently cannot import cars with CNG tanks into Japan. (Volkswagen’s Passat CNG hybrid is not available in the U.S. either.)

Volkswagen wants to expand its sizable dealer network in Japan, something that would be impossible if the propaganda of the anti-Japan lobby is to be believed. “Sure, land for dealerships is expensive in Japan, especially in the cities,” says Maruta.  Except for a lack of money or patience, nothing bars an importer from establishing dealers  in Japan. “Market entry takes a lot of time and money,” says Maruta, “you must go step by step.”  Volkswagen has been in Japan since the ancient times of the original Bug.

Maruta is very familiar with the issue. Before coming to Volkswagen, he worked for Mazda, then GM. He recalls “when Toyota sold the Chevrolet Cavalier, I sold Saturn, and Chrysler tried to sell the Neon, they called it the Japan killer car, but unfortunately …”

Being a company that is heavy on small cars, Volkswagen has issues with Japan’s special treatment for Kei cars. Says Maruta: “Automotive tax for a kei is some 7,200 yen ($90) a year, compared  to say a Vitz for which you would have to pay more than 30,000 yen ($374) a year.” Kei cars have 33 percent of the Japanese market, a segment Maruta’s employer can’t touch, because Volkswagen does not have the product.

Nothing precludes a foreign manufacturer from making and importing a kei, but it would be a silly exercise.Volkswagen’s design chief Walter de Silva “drew us a schematic, showing that he would need a completely new platform for a Volkswagen kei car,” chimes in Maruta’s collegaue, Dorothea Gasztner. “An outsider would never reach the volume necessary for a successful entry into the kei car market.” Even Japanese car companies battle with the low volume of keis. Production more and more concentrates on a few key makers such as Daihatsu and Suzuki that produce keis for other Japanese car companies. Subaru for instance handed its kei car production to Toyota’s Daihatsu, in return, Subaru manufactures the low volume hachi-roku sports car.

Volkswagen tried with an engagement with Suzuki, but it was thwarted. Not by a non-tariff barrier, but by a rambunctious Osamu Suzuki.  Now, Volkswagen, along with importers allied in the Japan Automobile Importers Association, lobbies  for an end of the preferential tax treatment of kei cars.

Another limitation to successful entry into the Japanese market is the Japanese customer that predominantly prefers homegrown cars.  Maruta hopes to convince more. A recent study shows that 25 percent of Japanese car buyers would consider a foreign car, “whether they buy one is another matter,” Maruta says.

The key is having the right product that speaks to the peculiar Japanese psyche, where small is beautiful, and big is boorish. Volkswagen found that product in the small but peppy Up! that shapes up to be Volkswagen’s most successful Japanese product launch ever.   In a few days (and after we have found a magnifying glass) we will look closer at the success of the Up!  in Japan.

In October, sales of cars imported to Japan rose 20.1 percent year-on-year to 23,597 units, data released by the Japan Automobile Importers Association show.  January through October, 257,206 units were imported.

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While Detroit Complains About A Closed Japanese Market, Imports Are Way Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/while-detroit-complains-about-a-closed-japanese-market-imports-are-way-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/while-detroit-complains-about-a-closed-japanese-market-imports-are-way-up/#comments Thu, 04 Oct 2012 08:35:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462685 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 […]

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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.

January through September, sales of imported cars rose 13 percent in Japan to 233,609. The main drivers of imports are German and Japanese automakers.  Volkswagen remains the leading importer to Japan, followed by Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Imports by Japanese brands were lifted by Mitsubishi bringing in the Thai-made Mirage and by Toyota exporting its Avensis wagon from the U.K. Nissan’s imports dropped nearly 18 percent in the first nine months. All in all, imports by Japanese makers dropped 1.6 percent in the first nine months, while non-Japanese increased their imports by 18.5 percent.

Affluent Japanese who want to demonstrate their individualism with their choice of wheels is a small demographic which American cars seemingly are unable to penetrate. Fords and Chevrolets  keep being outsold by niche brands such as Porsche and Alfa Romeo. There is a small, but increasing market for Jeeps.  Most likely, it is easier to cry about a closed market than to start selling in Japan in earnest.

Imports To Japan, Jan-Sept 2012
YTD’12 Share YTD’11 YoY
VW 41,971 18.0% 37,290 12.6%
Nissan 34,512 14.8% 41,961 -17.8%
Mercedes-Benz 30,641 13.1% 24,645 24.3%
BMW 29,524 12.6% 24,005 23.0%
Audi 18,356 7.9% 16,214 13.2%
Toyota 13,508 5.8% 10,031 34.7%
BMW MINI 12,124 5.2% 10,576 14.6%
Volvo 10,315 4.4% 8,172 26.2%
Mitsubishi 5,884 2.5% 101 5725.7%
Fiat 4,353 1.9% 4,479 -2.8%
Peugeot 4,263 1.8% 4,569 -6.7%
Jeep 3,791 1.6% 2,407 57.5%
Alfa Romeo 3,560 1.5% 1,542 130.9%
Porsche 3,146 1.3% 2,597 21.1%
Ford 2,971 1.3% 2,421 22.7%
Citroen 2,912 1.2% 2,215 31.5%
Renault 2,403 1.0% 2,316 3.8%
Land Rover 1,159 0.5% 730 58.8%
Chevrolet 1,114 0.5% 864 28.9%
smart 1,076 0.5% 990 8.7%
Cadillac 941 0.4% 1,037 -9.3%
Dodge 828 0.4% 783 5.7%
Suzuki 808 0.3% 2,895 -72.1%
Jaguar 796 0.3% 777 2.4%
Chrysler 462 0.2% 449 2.9%
Ferrari 380 0.2% 294 29.3%
Maserati 239 0.1% 200 19.5%
Lotus 204 0.1% 216 -5.6%
Hummer 185 0.1% 218 -15.1%
Honda 169 0.1% 800 -78.9%
Bentley 147 0.1% 85 72.9%
Lamborghini 126 0.1% 69 82.6%
Aston Martin 120 0.1% 100 20.0%
Lancia 101 0.0% 70 44.3%
BMW Alpina 97 0.0% 114 -14.9%
Hyundai 82 0.0% 68 20.6%
GMC 81 0.0% 84 -3.6%
Rolls Royce 59 0.0% 63 -6.3%
Rover 41 0.0% 32 28.1%
Mclaren 24 0.0%
Saab 20 0.0% 49 -59.2%
Morgan 12 0.0% 13 -7.7%
Maybach 9 0.0% 9 0.0%
Pontiac 8 0.0% 8 0.0%
Unimog 8 0.0% 4 100.0%
MG 7 0.0% 7 0.0%
Bugatti 4 0.0% 2 100.0%
RUF 2 0.0%
Ssangyong 2 0.0%
Zagato 2 0.0%
Artega 1 0.0%
Autobianchi 1 0.0% 2 -50.0%
Detomaso 1 0.0% 3 -66.7%
Kia 1 0.0% 3 -66.7%
Mini 1 0.0% 1 0.0%
PROTON 1 0.0%
Saturn 1 0.0% 1 0.0%
Buick 0.0% 8 -100.0%
DAEWOO 0.0% 2 -100.0%
GMDAT 0.0% 4 -100.0%
Opel 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Others 55 0.0% 52 5.8%
Total 233,609 100.00 206,648 13.0%

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Renault Opens Import Company In Allegedly Closed Market Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/renault-opens-import-company-in-allegedly-closed-market-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/renault-opens-import-company-in-allegedly-closed-market-japan/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2012 17:33:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436921 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 […]

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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.

With 3,068 units sold in 2011, Renaults are not necessarily brisk sellers in Nippon. Renault’s alliance partner Nissan on the other hand is the second largest import brand with 53,337 units imported in 2011.

King of the hill is and remains Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Group imported 72,028 units to Japan in 2011. You will not hear them complain about a closed market.

Because of the weak euro and strong yen, the car exported from Europe to Japan guarantee big profits, especially because the Japanese customer sees nothing of that currency windfall. Cars going from Japan to the soft-euro-zone can incur losses.

As the list, compiled using data of the Japan Automobiles Importers Association, shows,  American companies do miserably in Japan. Tiny Porsche sells more cars in Japan than all of General Motors.

Registrations Of New Car Imports Japan 2011

2011 Share% 2010 Change
Volkswagen Group 72,028 26.1% 63,759 13.0%
VW 50,635 18.4% 46,707 8.4%
Audi 21,166 7.7% 16,854 25.6%
Bentley 126 0.0% 136 -7.4%
Lamborghini 99 0.0% 60 65.0%
Bugatti 2 0.0% 2 0.0%
Renault Nissan  Alliance 53,337 19.3% 29,504 80.8%
Nissan 50,269 18.2% 26,967 86.4%
Renault 3,068 1.1% 2,537 20.9%
BMW Group 48,770 17.7% 44,044 10.7%
BMW 34,195 12.4% 32,426 5.5%
BMW MINI 14,350 5.2% 11,338 26.6%
BMW Alpina 141 0.1% 202 -30.2%
Rolls Royce 80 0.0% 74 8.1%
Mini 4 0.0% 4 0.0%
Daimler Benz Group 34,442 12.5% 32,048 7.5%
Mercedes-Benz 33,212 12.0% 30,936 7.4%
smart 1,214 0.4% 1,101 10.3%
Maybach 9 0.0% 6 50.0%
Unimog 7 0.0% 5 40.0%
Toyota 15,377 5.6% 10,234 50.3%
Fiat Chrysler Group 13,427 4.9% 11,751 14.3%
Jeep 3,154 1.1% 1,877 68.0%
Dodge 1,106 0.4% 868 27.4%
Chrysler 611 0.2% 777 -21.4%
Fiat 5,960 2.2% 5,562 7.2%
Alfa Romeo 1,863 0.7% 1,816 2.6%
Ferrari 386 0.1% 493 -21.7%
Maserati 249 0.1% 287 -13.2%
Lancia 96 0.0% 68 41.2%
Autobianchi 2 0.0% 3 -33.3%
Volvo 11,997 4.4% 7,894 52.0%
PSA Group 9,231 3.3% 8,423 9.6%
Peugeot 6,137 2.2% 6,021 1.9%
Citroen 3,094 1.1% 2,402 28.8%
Porsche 3,658 1.3% 3,335 9.7%
Ford 3,469 1.3% 3,047 13.8%
General Motors Group 3,102 1.1% 2,475 25.3%
Cadillac 1,392 0.5% 1,057 31.7%
Chevrolet 1,268 0.5% 905 40.1%
Hummer 293 0.1% 376 -22.1%
GMC 117 0.0% 106 10.4%
Pontiac 12 0.0% 10 20.0%
Buick 11 0.0% 7 57.1%
GMDAT 5 0.0% 5 0.0%
DAEWOO 2 0.0% 2 0.0%
Opel 1 0.0% 4 -75.0%
Saturn 1 0.0% 3 -66.7%
Suzuki 3,091 1.1% 4,325 -28.5%
JLR Group 2,011 0.7% 1,975 1.8%
Jaguar 1,020 0.4% 1,138 -10.4%
Land Rover 942 0.3% 770 22.3%
Rover 49 0.0% 67 -26.9%
Honda 945 0.3% 1,292 -26.9%
Lotus 271 0.1% 312 -13.1%
Aston Martin 140 0.1% 121 15.7%
Mitsubishi 105 0.0% 182 -42.3%
Hyundai Kia Group 84 0.0% 211 -60.2%
Hyundai 81 0.0% 208 -61.1%
Kia 3 0.0% 3 0.0%
Saab 60 0.0% 63 -4.8%
Morgan 16 0.0% 15 6.7%
MG 11 0.0% 7 57.1%
Detomaso 4 0.0% 2 100.0%
Subaru 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Others 68 0.0% 63 7.9%
Total 275,644 100.00 225,083 22.5%

There have been many theories that tried to explain why the Americans are losing the import wars in Japan year after year. Favorite theory in Detroit is that the Japanese market is closed. When asked where and how, there are no answers. Some people cite the fact that the Japanese drive on the left – which doesn’t stop the Germans from selling a lot of cars in Japan. Culturally attuned people say the Japanese like saiku things, small precision machines. This does not help the Mini much, which sold 4 in Japan, whereas 80 monstrous Rolls were sold. Those allegedly narrow streets in Japan seem to be wide enough for 33,000 Mercedes. Inscrutable orient.

 

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The Unthinkable Happens: Car Imports To Allegedly Closed Japan Up 22 Percent, Foreign Share Highest In Recorded History http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/the-unthinkable-happens-car-imports-to-allegedly-closed-japan-up-22-percent-foreign-share-highest-in-recorded-history/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/the-unthinkable-happens-car-imports-to-allegedly-closed-japan-up-22-percent-foreign-share-highest-in-recorded-history/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2012 15:40:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425556 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 […]

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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.

“Sales of imported cars topped 10% for the first time since records began in 1966,” a JAIA official told The Nikkei [sub].

Japanese automakers joined the importing fray, led by Nissan. Nissan imported 50,269 cars to Japan in 2011, up 86 percent. Second largest Japanese importer was Toyota.

Sales by foreign automakers grew 13.1 percent to 205,857 vehicles in 2011, grabbing a record 7.7 percent market share.

Japan’s largest importer remains the Volkswagen Group which enlarged its leadership role by 13 percent to 72,028 units. You will not hear a Volkswagen executive complain about a closed Japanese market. I worked for them for more than 30 years, they complained a lot, but never about that. Volkswagen is followed by BMW and Daimler. Fiat-Chrysler shows nice growth, aided by strong Jeep sales.

Ford and GM are treading water. Porsche sold more cars in Japan than Ford or GM.

Newly Registered Imported Vehicles by Brand
(Total Passenger Cars, Trucks and Buses)
December 2011   January – December 2011
2011 Share 2010 Growth 2011 Share 2010

Growth
Volkswagen Grp 5,975 22.75% 4,624 29.22% 72,028 26.13% 63,759 12.97%
VW 4,194 15.97% 3,151 33.10% 50,635 18.37% 46,707 8.41%
Audi 1,753 6.67% 1,445 21.31% 21,166 7.68% 16,854 25.58%
Bentley 14 0.05% 24 -41.67% 126 0.05% 136 -7.35%
Lamborghini 14 0.05% 4 250.00% 99 0.04% 60 65.00%
Bugatti 2 0.00% 2
Nissan 1,729 6.58% 2,843 -39.18% 50,269 18.24% 26,967 86.41%
BMW Group 6,665 25.38% 5,396 23.52% 48,766 17.69% 44,040 10.73%
BMW 5,183 19.73% 4,271 21.35% 34,195 12.41% 32,426 5.46%
BMW MINI 1,468 5.59% 1,102 33.21% 14,350 5.21% 11,338 26.57%
BMW Alpina 8 0.03% 17 -52.94% 141 0.05% 202 -30.20%
Rolls Royce 6 0.02% 6 80 0.03% 74 8.11%
Daimler 4,213 16.04% 3,305 27.47% 34,435 12.49% 32,043 7.46%
Mercedes-Benz 4,081 15.54% 3,110 31.22% 33,212 12.05% 30,936 7.36%
smart 132 0.50% 192 -31.25% 1,214 0.44% 1,101 10.26%
Maybach 3 9 0.00% 6 50.00%
Fiat-Chrysler 1,393 5.30% 1,222 13.99% 13,425 4.87% 11,748 14.27%
Fiat 596 2.27% 599 -0.50% 5,960 2.16% 5,562 7.16%
Jeep 399 1.52% 148 169.59% 3,154 1.14% 1,877 68.03%
Alfa Romeo 140 0.53% 251 -44.22% 1,863 0.68% 1,816 2.59%
Dodge 129 0.49% 95 35.79% 1,106 0.40% 868 27.42%
Chrysler 63 0.24% 50 26.00% 611 0.22% 777 -21.36%
Maserati 16 0.06% 29 -44.83% 249 0.09% 287 -13.24%
Ferrari 39 0.15% 42 -7.14% 386 0.14% 493 -21.70%
Lancia 11 0.04% 8 37.50% 96 0.03% 68 41.18%
Toyota 1,494 5.69% 1,030 45.05% 15,377 5.58% 10,234 50.25%
Volvo 2,105 8.01% 1,138 84.97% 11,997 4.35% 7,894 51.98%
PSA Group 1,075 4.09% 997 7.82% 9,231 3.35% 8,423 9.59%
Peugeot 713 2.71% 647 10.20% 6,137 2.23% 6,021 1.93%
Citroen 362 1.38% 350 3.43% 3,094 1.12% 2,402 28.81%
Suzuki 15 0.06% 381 -96.06% 3,091 1.12% 4,325 -28.53%
Porsche 441 1.68% 381 15.75% 3,658 1.33% 3,335 9.69%
Ford 343 1.31% 338 1.48% 3,469 1.26% 3,047 13.85%
Renault 234 0.89% 161 45.34% 3,068 1.11% 2,537 20.93%
General Motors 318 1.21% 290 9.66% 3,083 1.12% 2,453 25.68%
Chevrolet 142 0.54% 98 44.90% 1,268 0.46% 905 40.11%
Cadillac 138 0.53% 140 -1.43% 1,392 0.50% 1,057 31.69%
Hummer 22 0.08% 36 -38.89% 293 0.11% 376 -22.07%
GMC 15 0.06% 16 -6.25% 117 0.04% 106 10.38%
Buick 1 0.00% 11 0.00% 7 57.14%
DAEWOO 2 0.00% 2
JLR Group 163 0.62% 233 -30.04% 1,962 0.71% 1,908 2.83%
Jaguar 75 0.29% 154 -51.30% 1,020 0.37% 1,138 -10.37%
Land Rover 88 0.34% 79 11.39% 942 0.34% 770 22.34%
Honda 41 0.16% 147 -72.11% 945 0.34% 1,292 -26.86%
Lotus 20 0.08% 32 -37.50% 271 0.10% 312 -13.14%
Mitsubishi 1 0.00% 11 -90.91% 105 0.04% 182 -42.31%
Aston Martin 16 0.06% 14 14.29% 140 0.05% 121 15.70%
Hyundai 4 0.02% 5 -20.00% 81 0.03% 208 -61.06%
Saab 2 0.01% 13 -84.62% 60 0.02% 63 -4.76%
Rover 8 0.03% 6 33.33% 49 0.02% 67 -26.87%
Morgan 2 16 0.01% 15 6.67%
MG 1 0.00% 1 11 0.00% 7 57.14%
Detomaso 1 4 0.00% 2 100.00%
Pontiac 2 0.01% 1 100.00% 12 0.00% 10 20.00%
GMDAT 5 0.00% 5
Unimog 2 0.01% 3 -33.33% 7 0.00% 5 40.00%
Kia 3 0.00% 3
Autobianchi 1 2 0.00% 3 -33.33%
Mini 2 0.01% 1 100.00% 4 0.00% 4
Opel 1 0.00% 4 -75.00%
Saturn 1 0.00% 3 -66.67%
Subaru 1
Others 3 0.01% 1 200.00% 68 0.02% 63 7.94%
Total 26,265 100% 22,578 16.33% 275,644 100.00% 225,083 22.46%

The post The Unthinkable Happens: Car Imports To Allegedly Closed Japan Up 22 Percent, Foreign Share Highest In Recorded History appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Chinese Cars Have Arrived, As Honda Imports Fits From The Middle Kingdom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/chinese-cars-have-arrived-as-honda-imports-fits-from-the-middle-kingdom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/chinese-cars-have-arrived-as-honda-imports-fits-from-the-middle-kingdom/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 18:46:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423148 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 […]

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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 post Chinese Cars Have Arrived, As Honda Imports Fits From The Middle Kingdom appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Lies, Damn Lies, And The Closed Japanese Car Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/lies-damn-lies-and-the-closed-japanese-car-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/lies-damn-lies-and-the-closed-japanese-car-market/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2011 14:14:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418396 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 […]

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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:

“I would like to know exactly what aspects of the Japanese market the U.S. side considers closed.”

The matter bubbled to the top again because the Japanese government is finally making baby steps towards joining the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade framework. Japanese carmakers had been pushing their reluctant government that way for a while in an attempt to offset the surging yen.

Opposition comes from a not unexpected corner: From U.S. automakers. Ford, which also opposed the watered-down free trade agreement with South Korea, wants Japan to stay out. Not being able to answer Shiga’s question of which part of the Japanese market is exactly closed, Ford reverts to a familiar line of reasoning. Ford said in a statement:

“Japan already ships more than 200 cars to the U.S. for every one car we send there.”

In other words: We can’t say which part of the Japanese market is closed, but a look at our pathetic numbers proves that it must be closed somewhere, somehow. It can’t possibly be our own fault. No way.

As the table, provided by the Japan Automobile Importers Association and based on actual registrations, shows, imports are alive and well in Japan. Actually, they are rising with a vengeance. In October, they were up 33.1 percent, and for the year, they are up 23.4 percent.

Newly Registered Imported Vehicles by Brand
(Total Passenger Cars, Trucks and Buses)
  Imports Japan October 2011   January – October 2011
2011 Share 2010 Growth 2011 Share 2010 Growth
Volkswagen Group 5,452 27.7% 3,435 58.7% 59,112 26.1% 54,981 7.5%
VW 3,861 19.7% 2,512 53.7% 41,151 18.2% 40,704 1.1%
Audi 1,568 8.0% 906 73.1% 17,782 7.9% 14,110 26.0%
Bentley 15 0.1% 9 66.7% 100 0.0% 110 -9.1%
Lamborghini 8 0.0% 7 14.3% 77 0.0% 55 40.0%
Bugatti 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 2 0.0% 2 0.0%
Nissan 3,500 17.8% 2,968 17.9% 45,461 20.1% 19,881 128.7%
BMW Group 3,371 17.2% 2,788 20.9% 38,129 16.8% 35,128 8.5%
BMW 2,215 11.3% 2,040 8.6% 26,220 11.6% 25,455 3.0%
BMW MINI 1,146 5.8% 725 58.1% 11,722 5.2% 9,439 24.2%
BMW Alpina 7 0.0% 17 -58.8% 121 0.1% 176 -31.3%
Rolls Royce 3 0.0% 6 -50.0% 66 0.0% 58 13.8%
Daimler 1,820 9.3% 1,510 20.5% 27,464 12.1% 26,625 3.2%
Mercedes-Benz 1,771 9.0% 1,496 18.4% 26,416 11.7% 25,789 2.4%
smart 49 0.2% 14 250.0% 1,039 0.5% 834 24.6%
Maybach 0 0.0% 0 9 0.0% 2 350.0%
Toyota 1,831 9.3% 1,023 79.0% 11,862 5.2% 7,996 48.3%
Fiat-Chrysler 867 4.4% 737 17.6% 11,091 4.9% 9,620 15.3%
Fiat 457 2.3% 227 101.3% 4,936 2.2% 4,604 7.2%
Jeep 145 0.7% 154 -5.8% 2,552 1.1% 1,576 61.9%
Alfa Romeo 67 0.3% 141 -52.5% 1,609 0.7% 1,366 17.8%
Dodge 94 0.5% 62 51.6% 877 0.4% 694 26.4%
Chrysler 49 0.2% 59 -16.9% 498 0.2% 689 -27.7%
Maserati 15 0.1% 24 -37.5% 215 0.1% 241 -10.8%
Ferrari 32 0.2% 65 -50.8% 326 0.1% 397 -17.9%
Lancia 8 0.0% 5 60.0% 78 0.0% 53 47.2%
Volvo 656 3.3% 495 32.5% 8,828 3.9% 6,142 43.7%
PSA Group 629 3.2% 498 26.3% 7,413 3.3% 6,728 10.2%
Peugeot 364 1.9% 330 10.3% 4,933 2.2% 4,903 0.6%
Citroen 265 1.3% 168 57.7% 2,480 1.1% 1,825 35.9%
Suzuki 113 0.6% 233 -51.5% 3,008 1.3% 3,750 -19.8%
Porsche 268 1.4% 207 29.5% 2,865 1.3% 2,717 5.4%
Ford 382 1.9% 164 132.9% 2,803 1.2% 2,459 14.0%
Renault 261 1.3% 191 36.6% 2,577 1.1% 2,227 15.7%
General Motors 254 1.3% 199 27.6% 2,481 1.1% 1,990 24.7%
Chevrolet 118 0.6% 72 63.9% 982 0.4% 748 31.3%
Cadillac 96 0.5% 84 14.3% 1,133 0.5% 829 36.7%
Hummer 27 0.1% 31 -12.9% 245 0.1% 307 -20.2%
GMC 9 0.0% 9 0.0% 93 0.0% 79 17.7%
Buick 1 0.0% 0 9 0.0% 5 80.0%
Opel 0 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 4 -75.0%
Saturn 0 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 2 -50.0%
GMDAT 1 0.0% 0 5 0.0% 5 0.0%
Pontiac 2 0.0% 3 -33.3% 10 0.0% 9 11.1%
DAEWOO 0 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 2 0.0%
JLR Group 127 0.6% 117 8.5% 1,634 0.7% 1,488 9.8%
Jaguar 75 0.4% 74 1.4% 852 0.4% 882 -3.4%
Land Rover 52 0.3% 43 20.9% 782 0.3% 606 29.0%
Honda 66 0.3% 116 -43.1% 866 0.4% 839 3.2%
Lotus 15 0.1% 27 -44.4% 231 0.1% 253 -8.7%
Mitsubishi 1 0.0% 10 -90.0% 102