Tag: Japan

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 February 9, 2017

Viper Supra Corvette

Japanese cars gradually overcame the stigma of being low-quality, unreliable trash piles after entering the U.S. market decades ago. Imports became commonplace during the 1970s and Japan’s cars began setting the new benchmark for automotive quality while Ronald Reagan was in office.

The inverse can be said of American cars being sold in Japan, and it’s a well-documented and long-running annoyance for the American automotive industry. In January, a frustrated President Donald Trump complained that Japan does “things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan, and yet, they sell cars [in the United States] and they come in by the hundreds of thousands on the biggest ships I’ve ever seen.”

Though the statement could be taken as contentious, as Japan does not impose any tariffs on U.S. cars, the country also exported 1.6 million vehicles to the States while America sold fewer than 19,000 back in 2015. Something is definitely amiss, and while it might not be as simple a reason as Japan hating our cars, that’s still a large part of it.  (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

2004 Suzuki Verona in California wrecking yard, grille badge - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp. have agreed to begin official talks on pushing their partnership further. The partnership memorandum announced today covers a wide range of issues crucial to developing and producing automobiles, while keeping Suzuki independent as an automaker. Toyota is apparently not interested in corporate control. The automaker showed a similar gentle touch in its partnerships with Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries.

Instead, the two companies have agreed to start brainstorming on how to best collaborate on advanced safety systems, environmentally friendly tech, information technology, overlapping components, and shared product.  (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2017

Trabant 601deluxe Universal, Modell 1970, By Deluxe602 at de.wikipedia (Original text : S.M.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

“Like any good capitalist, I firmly believe that automakers need competition to produce their best and most innovative work.” That’s what my colleague and occasional pal Stef Schrader on Jalopnik wrote yesterday, in a column titled Protectionism Is Only Good If You Love Really Terrible Cars. I doubt neither Stef’s sincerity nor her diligence; she hits all the traditional marks in her piece, from Allegro to Trabant, and she does it with style.

I am not a good capitalist. Not any longer.

For most of my life, I was; I’ve been mostly self-employed since I was 19, and I’ve never asked for help from anybody save for three weeks’ worth of unemployment payments in 1995. I always looked at life as a battle that went to the strongest, and I never felt inadequate in the face of the challenge.

Once I became a father, however, I started wondering about my son’s prospects, and the prospects of his contemporaries. What if they didn’t have the strength, or the luck, that I’ve had? Should they be just tossed aside by the global economy, discarded forever just because they couldn’t win a race to the bottom with seven billion other desperate souls?

If the former president of the Miami University Entrepreneurial Society (yes, guilty as charged) can read Adbusters and start worrying about factory conditions around the globe, perhaps that means everything out there is up for grabs. And it’s worth asking the question: Could a new round of protectionist policies, intelligently conceived and applied, change our lives as drivers, consumers, and workers — for the better?

(Read More…)

By on January 16, 2017

2016 Honda Civic Sedan - Image: Honda

The first Honda Civic made its way to the United States during the Nixon administration. Honda began building Civics in the United States in 1986. Two years later, Honda of Canada Manufacturing began Civic production, as well.

In 2016, with an assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana, and Alliston, Ontario, Honda is building more than 38,000 Civics per month in North America.

Yet seven years after Honda discontinued the Civic in its Japanese home market, Civic production is returning to Japan.

Civic sales resume in Japan this summer, and some of those Japanese-built Civics, Automotive News reports, might make their way to America. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2016

U.S. Marines amphibious assault vehicle (U.S. Pacific Command/Flickr)

What a difference seven decades make. In the early 1940s, Mitsubishi Zeroes of the Imperial Japanese Navy tangled with U.S. Grumman Wildcats and Hellcats in the skies over the west Pacific. Now, the aircraft’s builder wants the U.S. Marines to sign up for its amphibious assault vehicle.

Japan is getting into the arms export game after scrapping a law forbidding it, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries now in talks with a U.S. company to partner on the vehicle, Reuters reports. (Read More…)

By on May 31, 2016

Osamu and Toshihiro Suzuki

After the Mitsubishi fuel economy scandal triggered a Japan-wide investigation into fuel economy claims, Suzuki is now in a similar situation as its diamond-starred competitor.

But the reasoning behind Suzuki’s misdeed is different: the automaker, it claims, was destitute.

(Read More…)

By on May 22, 2016

Lexus LFLC Concept, Image: Lexus

… unless you’re Chinese, in which case Japanese luxury brands are definitely designing those grilles for you.

According to Automotive News, China is poised to eclipse the United States as the number one luxury car market. To get ready for that eventuality, Japanese luxury car brands are designing their cars to cater to the tastes of affluent, young, Chinese car buyers.

(Read More…)

By on May 12, 2016

2016 Honda HR-V Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

It’s no secret that Honda strives to offer a “Goldilocks-just-right” option in just about every segment  — not too big, not too small; not too cheap, not too expensive; not too flashy, not too bland, and with a dollop of practicality on top. This formula has led to a lineup of sales successes with few exceptions. Oddly enough, Honda’s new-to-America HR-V is one of those exceptions.

Based on numbers from GoodCarBadCar, the Jeep Renegade is outselling the HR-V at a clip of 1.4:1 so far this year. Even Buick shifted more Encores — just — than Honda sold HR-Vs.

What gives? Have subcompact CUV shoppers forsaken Honda? Is the Renegade that good? Or is there some other explanation?

(Read More…)

By on April 26, 2016

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

Mitsubishi’s fuel economy scandal blew up yesterday after the automaker admitted it has issued misleading mileage data since C+C Music Factory was at the top of the charts.

The scandal that started with inflated mileage numbers on a single minicar one week ago now extends to all Japanese market Mitsubishi vehicles sold over the past quarter century. Reuters is reporting that the automaker compiled fuel economy data using U.S. standards, rather than the Japanese standards that factor in much more city driving. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2016

GM

Four General Motors assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada will be closed temporarily due to supply chain disruptions caused by last week’s earthquakes in Japan.

The automaker announced today that four plants — Spring Hill, Tennessee; Lordstown, Ohio; Fairfax, Kansas; and Oshawa, Ontario — will be idled for two weeks starting on April 25. (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 4, 2016

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

The promise of improved performance and tree-hugging fuel economy has made turbocharged engines all the rage in luxury cars. Despite the often failure of those boosted motors to meet their lofty, published fuel economy ratings in the real world, forced induction has a significant — and positive — impact on performance.

It seems Infiniti had gotten the memo.

(Read More…)

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