Tag: Japan

By on September 13, 2017

Image: Nissan Pao, via Wikipedia

It happened quite by accident last week, as good ideas often do. After last Wednesday’s Rare Rides post concerning the Nissan Stanza Wagon, reader comments got a little sidetracked. Dal20402 lamented there had never been a worse name for a car than Axxess (the Stanza Wagon’s successor).

Before I could unplug TTAC from the Canadian outlet on the wall, other commenters were jumping in with their terrible name suggestions. Seemed like a fun game, so today we open the floor to everyone’s suggestions.

Give us your submissions for the worst-ever automotive model names.

(Read More…)

By on September 6, 2017

Image: 1986 Nissan Stanza Wagon, via seller

Nissan and Datsun brought quirky, interesting, innovative vehicles to North American shores in the years prior to roughly 1994. Commenters — okay, I — brought up our subject Stanza in a post the other day about AMC Eagle creator Roy Lunn. Mr. Lunn used American Motors’ rather slim budget to create what was arguably the very first crossover vehicle from an assemblage of existing parts.

Let’s see what Nissan did with its early proto-crossover vehicle idea.

(Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

suzuki alto works rs-r

Anyone with an interest in odd cars probably has at least a passing fascination with Japanese kei cars. As a member of that small subset of enthusiasts, I have a long-held fantasy that involves owning a Suzuki Alto Works, Daihatsu Mira Turbo, Honda Today, or Honda Acty. But the closest North America ever got was the i-MiEV, which Mitsubishi stretched a few inches to comply with U.S. crash ratings — nullifying its official status as a kei.

Sure, most kei cars are utter garbage from a driving perspective, but their utilitarian quirkiness and microscopic road-presence are difficult to replicate on anything other than a moped. They’re also stupidly affordable, which is one of the reasons they’ve persisted in Japan.

However, that’s beginning to change now that their home country has begun taxing them into extinction. The miniature breed, brought to life specifically so budget-minded motorists can have a vehicle and always find parking, lost roughly 25 percent of its yearly volume since Japan targeted them in 2014 — resulting in a sudden annual deficit of nearly 550,000 pint-sized vehicles.  (Read More…)

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 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 June 28, 2017

1995 Ford Explorer Limited, Image: Ford

Back in late May of this year, I inquired which modern automaker was the most daring. While I posited it could be Nissan or Volvo, many of you replied it was actually Dodge, followed by Kia and Mazda.

This week, let’s turn back the clock a couple of decades and see if all our answers require a bit of reworking. We’re off to everyone’s favorite car decade, the 1990s. Which automaker was most daring in the era of the neon and teal fanny pack? I’ll give you two specific model examples, much like I did before.

(Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

Chrysler 300 Japan

We all remember former Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca railing against the Japanese for their uber-expensive land and not-so-open borders. Well, Jeep sales are slowly picking up in that Detroit Three-averse country, but one storied American brand isn’t doing so hot.

Chrysler. Sure, the brand isn’t doing all that great in its home country, either, what with only two models to show for itself. Still, Japanese buyers seem particularly unimpressed with the sole model Chrysler has to offer it.

Still, even with nearly nonexistent sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t about to throw in the towel just yet. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

Image: Daihatsu Charade, via Craigslist

I really enjoy encountering the cheap and cheerful compacts of the past. Their lack of technological complexity, superb integrity in exterior design, and complete absence of flim-flam is refreshing.

Our Rare Ride today is such a compact, from a company many in North America don’t know. It’s the Daihatsu Charade.

(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

Image: 1981 Subaru GL Wagon, image via eBay

Your Rare Ride today is a quite old 1981 Subaru GL wagon. It comes complete with a manual transmission, brownish paint, 4×4 drivetrain, brougham Desert Fox trim, and plaid seats. I figured you wouldn’t be too interested in seeing it.

Oh, who am I kidding? You all clicked through as soon as you saw the headline image, and you’ll be glad you did.

(Read More…)

By on May 17, 2017

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, Image: Mazda

Yesterday, Steph Willems asked in his Question of the Day what BMW should do with Mini and its lineup of identical-but-different vehicles almost nobody is buying. Since it seems like you’re quite eager to give brand strategy advice, let’s do it again today.

I want you to tell me what you’d do with Mazda, because its current PR line isn’t sitting well with me.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

Image: Collection of Suzuki and Geo vehicles, image via Craigslist

This is actually the first time in our Rare Rides series where Rides applies directly to a single story. That’s because this is more of a rare collection of cars from someone who is dedicated to a singular passion. A passion which only comes in one color, and which bears mostly misleading badging.

You don’t want to miss what you’re about to see.

(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 April 27, 2017

[Image: goodharbor/Flickr]

A major auto industry supplier has found itself on the receiving end of a multi-million-dollar fine north of the border, following an investigation into an international bid-rigging conspiracy.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice leveled a fine of $13.4 million against Mitsubishi Electric on Tuesday for its role in the illegal agreement. The supplier pleaded guilty to three charges, making it only the most recent Japanese supplier to face expensive justice for landing a juicy — but dodgy — parts contract. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

Eneos Gas Station With Hydrogen Pumps

The United States and Canada don’t have much of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure to speak of, but Japanese automakers continue sending fuel cell vehicles across the ocean anyway. Vehicles like the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai have been touted as the environmental saviors of tomorrow but, with the exception of California, there really isn’t a place for them in the North America of today. So why do Japanese manufactures continue to bother with hydrogen?

The main reason is because Japan has bought into a future that America doesn’t seem interested in. With three of its automakers already producing fuel cell cars, the government as adopted a fairly aggressive plan to adopt hydrogen for homes, business, and cars by 2030 — meaning the U.S. probably won’t see these vehicles vanish anytime soon.  (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…)

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