The Truth About Cars » TPP The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » TPP A Game Of Chicken Tax: Detroit Drops Pretenses, Wants To Keep Japan Out For As Long As Possible Sun, 07 Jul 2013 12:47:11 +0000

Detroit is finally dropping the mask and says what it really wants in U.S. / Japanese trade relations. It wants to keep existing barriers that frustrate importation of Japanese cars, and that, for all intents and purposes, prevent importation of  Japanese trucks. For the next generation, Detroit wants to be in your pocket without outside interference.

Japan is formally joining negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement next month in Malaysia. Despite, or possibly because of shrill rhetoric based on lies and deception, Detroit could not prevent it.

Last week, a U.S. government panel led by the Trade Representative’s Office held a hearing to get advice on negotiating objectives for Japan.

“Now that Japan is part of the negotiations,” wrote Reuters,  the American Automotive Policy Council, a lobbying group representing GM, Ford, and Chrysler, “is trying to hold on to the current 2.5 percent tariff on Japanese cars and the 25 percent tariff on Japanese trucks for as long as it can.”  The unions joined the pleas to keep trade barriers against Japanese imports in place. “Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff for the AFL-CIO labor federation, said eliminating the 2.5 percent duty on Japanese cars would gut the Detroit automakers’ profit margins, especially for small- to medium-sized cars.” Reuters says. “Getting rid of the 25 percent truck tariff would eliminate the incentive for Japanese companies to build trucks in the United States, putting U.S. jobs at risk.”

According to Reuters, “Japan already agreed in principle that the phase-out period for U.S. auto tariffs would be the same as the longest phase-out for any other product in the pact.” The longest phase-out would be the pact with for South Korea, which eliminates the 2.5 percent U.S. car tariff after four years and the 25 percent U.S. truck tariff after 10 years.

Detroit and the unions finally drop the charade that all they are interested in is an opening of the allegedly closed Japanese car market, which has been wide open.  The 25 percent chicken tax, along with skewed CAFE rules created a protected market for overpriced trucks that are safe from foreign competition. Detroit wants it to be protected for as long as possible, and the price to be paid by the American truck buyer.

In its representations to the panel, the AAPC still reiterated that Japan “maintains the most closed auto market in the developed world,”  but nobody except Detroit and the unions believe the tired lies anymore. Hard pressed to name the non-tariff barriers it blamed for the low sales of American cars, the AAPC lamely demands that Japan adopts more UNECE rules, while the U.S. does not adopt any.

In contrast, the Japanese Auto Manufacturer Association JAMA delivered short and very polite comments:

“At times during the Japan TPP debate in the U.S., misunderstandings have led to statements that Japan’s market is closed to imports.  In fact, Japan has zero auto tariffs and no restrictive customs or regulations only apply to imported vehicles.  With regard to dealerships, there is no restriction on the brands or vehicles dealers in Japan can sell and Japanese automakers cannot intervene in these dealer decisions.

In the case of the Japanese market, it is essential to note that Japanese consumers overwhelmingly prefer very small cars, which U.S.-based automakers rarely provide.  In 2012, smaller passenger cars, those with up to 2,000cc in engine capacity, had a 90 percent market share in Japan.  However, the U.S.-based automakers offered only five models in this segment while European automakers offered 87 models.  Accordingly, European car sales and market shares have been rising.  These realities confirm that a critical factor to success in any auto market is to offer sufficient choices of models that appeal to local consumers.”


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And Now, Japanese Trade Talks Sans The Silly Propaganda Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:08:35 +0000

Now that the U.S. and Japan have agreed on a watered-down version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations (America will keep its beloved chicken tax for at least another decade, Japan will protect its rice farmers from the evils of cheap American rice,) negotiations between  the EU and Japan about a trade pact are getting underway, with considerably less drama.

The lead-up to the U.S.-Japanese discussions was big on harebrained hubris that played well at home but caused rolling eyes in more worldly circles.  For years, Detroit carmakers accused Japan of closing its markets to American cars that few want in Japan and that Detroit makers don’t really try to sell to the Japanese in earnest. While a Japanese yen got stronger and stronger to the point of killing the Japanese export machine, a cabal of Detroit propagandists, UAW operatives and Democrat lawmakers could tell each other the story of Japanese currency manipulation, detracting from the fact that America was busy devaluing its dollar. And while the U.S. market  is ringfenced by onerous regulations  that allow only  deep-pocketed and very determined importers to sell their cars in the U.S., the Detroit propaganda machine successfully sold the story of insidious albeit hard to find “non-tariff barriers” that allegedly close the Japanese market tighter than a you-know-what.

Compared to this lunacy that would have made a Goebbels (“The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it”) envious, the discussions between Japan and Europe are a down-to-earth exercise in realpolitik. The EU position is simple: The EU charges 10 percent tariff on imported cars, Japan charges none. So, what can Japan offer for the EU to drop its customs duty?

Says The Nikkei [sub]:

“The EU’s focus appears to be on regulatory issues, such as treatment of minicars. European automakers, like their Japanese rivals, excel in compact models. But the European Automobile Manufacturers Association complains that Japan gives minicars preferential treatment, including tax advantages, that essentially shuts out European competitors.

The EU’s demands are likely to include allowing European carmakers to export to Japan as long as they meet EU safety standards. With sales in their home market suffering from the economic chill caused by the euro crisis, the Europeans fear added Japanese competition. The EU is offering to lower tariffs only to the extent that Japan complies on deregulation.”

An alignment of EU and Japanese automotive standards should be quit doable. Japan and  the EU are UNECE members, however, Japan so far has adopted only a subset of the UNECE regulations. The kei car issue is a bit tougher. Relaxed kei car regulations that would extend the kei car benefits to slightly larger and slightly better motorized versions could include a number of European models, and would at the same time be welcomed by Japanese makers who could sell what currently remains largely a Japanese oddity in foreign markets.  Also, European farmers aren’t big on rice, and both Europe and Japan share a common disdain for gene manipulated food.

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Protecting Rice And Chicken Tax, Japan And U.S. Agree On TPP Talks Fri, 12 Apr 2013 16:08:40 +0000

“Japan effectively sealed its participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations Friday after reaching an agreement with the U.S. over its entry into the talks for the emerging regional free trade pact,” says The Nikkei [sub] .

Detroit’s auto makers were violently opposed to Japan’s accession. In the deal, they did not receive what they loudly demanded, namely easier access to the Japanese market. With a zero percent tariff and relaxed  rules for low volume imports, access to the Japanese market can’t possibly be easier. Instead U.S. carmakers received what they silently wanted but rarely publicly admitted:  U.S. import tariffs, especially the chicken tax that protects the highly profitable  U.S. truck industry, will stick around for a long, long time.

“We have agreed to scrap U.S. tariffs on cars gradually over the longest feasible period,” said economy minister Akira Amari, Japan’s point man on the TPP talks.

At the same time “Japan’s sensitivity on agricultural products” will be recognized. Key agricultural items, such as rice, will be exempted from tariff eliminations.

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400,000 New Jobs Or 90,000 Unemployed? A Tale Of Two Free Trade Agreements Thu, 29 Nov 2012 13:44:24 +0000

In Europe, EU commissioners received the green light to start negotiations for an EU-Japan free trade agreement (FTA), despite the complaints of the auto industry, notably the one in Italy, and PSA in France, Reuters reports. Japan is the EU’s third-largest trading partner after the United States and China, and the architects of the FTA hope for 400,000 new jobs to be created in Europe as a result of the agreement.

Meanwhile in America, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, talks are in their third year and are going nowhere. The agreement would lift trade barriers between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and, as Reuters says, “almost any country with a Pacific shore.” The natives are getting restless though. They claim that the U.S. is making overreaching demands. 15 countries started negotiations about their own Asia-Pacific FTA, without the meddlesome U.S.  In the U.S. the American Automotive Policy Council has come to diametrically different conclusions than the EU. It says inclusion of Japan in the TPP “would put 90,000 U.S. auto jobs at risk.”  Ernest Bower, director of Southeast Asia studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, thinks time is running out for the TPP: “I think there’s a deal in 2013 or it’s dead, because I don’t think the Asian countries will wait around longer than that.”

The contentious issue of Japan’s membership in the TPP probably will be solved. On December 16,  Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party LDP is expected to be victorious.   It is critical of the TPP.

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Mazda Says Sayonara To Flat Rock, Good Riddance To Ford Fri, 24 Aug 2012 15:36:02 +0000

Today, the last Mazda6 will “roll off the assembly line in Flat Rock today as the Japanese automaker hands the keys to the plant back to its one-time parent, Ford Motor Co.,” says the Detroit News. It is part of a sad and messy affair that makes Ford look stupid and vindictive.

The AutoAlliance International plant has been run as a joint venture between Ford and Mazda since 1992. Officially, the plant remains a 50-50 joint venture between the two automakers while both are looking into a final dissolution. Ford spokesman Todd Nissen: “We continue to study various possibilities for the future of AAI, but we don’t have anything to announce at this time.”  The next-generation Mazda6 will be built in Japan.

Ford had bought a small stake in Mazda in 1979, and increased its holdings until Ford was Mazda’s largest shareholder and effectively controlled the company. Ford and Mazda shared plants and platforms throughout the world.

“When the financial crisis struck the auto industry in 2008, CEO Alan Mulally believed Ford’s engineers were using Mazda as a crutch,” says the DetN. More importantly, Ford’s shares of Mazda “were one of the few things Ford could still sell after mortgaging almost everything else to finance Mulally’s restructuring plan.” Ford reduced its 33.4 percent of Mazda to 13 percent in 2008, and cut the remainder down to a symbolic three percent in 2010. Sumitomo group firms and other companies with which Mazda enjoys close business ties were the buyers.

The formerly amicable relationship between Ford and Mazda quickly turned hostile after the first chunk of shares was turned into badly needed cash. If an executive from Ford wanted to attend a meeting at Mazda, the matters discussed had to be carefully vetted beforehand and signed-off in advance.

Former Japan-insider Ford turned into an enemy of Japan. Ford is a ringleader in the new rounds of Japan-bashing, it financed the embarrassing new “study” of the American Automotive Policy Council, which repeated old charges of a closed Japanese market, and of imperiled American jobs. Hopefully, Ford did not pay too much for the study. It was a re-release of old fiction, a sloppy re-hash of old lies without new proof.

As the former manager of a Japanese car company, Ford has intimate knowledge of Japanese business practices. If Ford can’t come up with proof to back up its embarrassing and childish allegations, we can safely assume that there is none.  Mazda, which has most of its production in Japan, is worst-hit by the obscenely high yen, and must mutter choice Japanese invectives when Ford’s executives or presumptive researchers paid by Ford tell their crude lies about Japanese currency manipulation. If there is one Japanese car company that could need a free trade pact between Japan and America, then it’s Mazda. Its estranged mother Ford is against it.

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Ford Demands Ultimate Sacrifice From Japan: Kill Some Car Factories, Then We Talk Sat, 05 May 2012 14:04:55 +0000

Imagine what happened if the representative of a large Japanese or Chinese car company would demand that America should close some car factories before easier access to foreign markets would be contemplated. All hell would break loose, and the Seventh Fleet would steam in the direction of the loose cannon – if it is not already there. What happens if the representative of Ford says that Japan should be required to reduce the size of its auto industry before being allowed into regional free trade talks with the United States and eight other countries in the Asia Pacific? Business as usual.

Steve Biegun, Ford’s vice president for international government affairs, showed symptoms of severe disorientation when he gave an interview to Reuters. Not only did the former foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin require that Japan shutters some car plants before the country is admitted into the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact. Biegun also claims that Japan is “the most protected automotive market in the developed world.”

This is a perplexing claim. The U.S. has one of the lowest tariffs on auto imports, 2.5 percent. It is outdone by Japan, which has the world’s lowest tariff: Zero.

Says Reuters:

 “But Ford contends the Japanese government maintains a number of regulatory and other “non-tariff barriers” to keep out most foreign cars and also intervenes heavily in currency markets to help its auto companies export cars.”

William Duncan, director of the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association’s office in Washington, says Biegun’s arguments are “rather bizarre,” and I agree.

Biegun’s claim that Japan manipulates its currency must be based on hallucinations, or drugs that trigger same. A look at a chart shows that the Japanese Yen is close to its all-time-high against the dollar, a fact that shunts Japanese exports more effectively than any trade policy. Claims that Japan manipulates its currency usually trigger a psychiatric evaluation, but don’t seem to be out of character for a Sarah Palin advisor.

Biegun repeats the old “non-tariff-barrier” talking points, but cannot name specifics. On that, Biegun and his colleagues are sitting in the glass house.  The U.S. market is surrounded by one of the highest non-tariff barriers in the world, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which are largely incompatible with the rest of the world that is more or less aligned behind UNECE standards or is derivatives.

A large part of the American cars that come into Japan don’t even have to adhere to Japan’s standard type approval. They are coming in under the Preferential Handling Procedure (PHP), a certification option for low-volume imported vehicles of less than 2,000 vehicles per vehicle type.  Under this procedure, cars can be brought into Japan with minimum paperwork, not even a test vehicle is required. Successful importers to Japan, such as Volkswagen, BMW or Daimler, have to contend with much more red tape than the Detroit whiners.

The Preferential Handling Procedure was,  says the Japanese manufacturer association JAMA, established in “1986 at the request of the United States Government to ease the burden on importers.”  The U.S. did not reciprocate and provides no such loophole for small volume imports.

Most of all, half of America’s automobile market, and the most profitable half, is surrounded by a tariff barrier as formidable  as the Chinese Wall: Since the early 60s, there is a 25 percent tariff on light trucks imported to the U.S., which pretty much stopped imports of light trucks to the U.S.

One continues to wonder what makes Ford and its Detroit friends resort to lies and distortions. More than 70 percent of all Japanese cars sold in the U.S. are already made there. With the yen being obscenely high (Sarah Palin won’t know, she rarely travels), exports from Japan get smaller by the day.

The moaning about being shut out of the Japanese market is ridiculous. American cars are largely unsalable in Japan. They are doing worse in Europe. GM exported a total of 109 cars from the US to Europe in the first three months of 2012, says ACEA. In the same period, GM exported 819 cars to Japan, says the Japan Automobile Importers Association.

Observers are scratching their heads when the U.S. car industry is going into hysterics about Japan and the TPP. Japan’s high yen is a much more formidable barrier to entry than  America’s 2.5 percent duty. Two possibilities:  Detroit wants to maintain the chicken tax. A silly exercise, given that even made-in-the-U.S.A. Japanese trucks are not taking the world by storm. Or, more plausible, the U.S. wants to keep Japan at a disadvantage when it comes to the emerging markets that are part of the TPP.

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Detroit: Never Mind, Let The Japanese Have Their Kei Cars. We Want Vietnam And Malaysia In The TPP Sat, 04 Feb 2012 19:26:02 +0000

This just in: “The U.S. auto industry has dropped a demand for Japan to abolish rules related to minivehicles ahead of upcoming talks between the two sides over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone,” The Nikkei [sub] writes after reading this story.

Detroit made the generous concession to let Japan have its kei cars ahead of talks between Japan and the U.S., to be held in Washington on Tuesday. 1.52 million kei cars changed hands in Japan in 2011.

The small cars enjoy lower taxes and lower insurance rates in Japan. Previously, the Big Three U.S. automakers found that highly unfair. Rumor has it that after one of the three asked to have the demand dropped, the matter is fair again.

The Nikkei heard that U.S. automakers are worried that opposition against Japan could delay negotiations with other presumptive TPP members. GM wants to expand into fast-growing countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. These countries are taking part in the TPP talks. A successful deal would make U.S. cars more competitive in these countries.

In the meantime, Japanese are worried about “GM crops.” No relation to the General – the “GM” stands  for Genetically Modified. Allegedly, two thirds of U.S. food already is “Frankenstein food,” Japan’s Majiroxnews says. Fanning these flames would have much better chances for success than denying the Japanese their lower taxed kei cars.


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While American Automakers Want Japan To Abandon Kei Cars, Matt Blunt Won’t Release The Documents, Again Sat, 04 Feb 2012 16:07:26 +0000

For a long time, Japan’s automakers had pressured their government to enter free trade talks with Europe and the U.S. The Japanese government had dragged its heels, putting the interest of ageing farmers first. With a trade agreement, Japan would be a ripe market for American rice farmers and cattle breeders, and I would finally be able to enjoy a good steak in Japan without risking a heart attack. Caused by the price, not by the cholesterol.

After the Japanese car industry did flee the strong yen and the country, its government reluctantly entered negotiations. Not surprisingly, the American car industry is opposed.

When Japan announced its intentions to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, U.S. car companies represented by the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC) expressed “adamant opposition,” Inside U.S. Trade reported. The AAPC represents Ford, Chrysler, and GM. Last November, AAPC President Matt Blunt demanded that Japan should not be allowed to join the TPP negotiations until U.S. and other foreign cars have achieved a higher market share in Japan. Which is a crafty way of saying “never.”

Now, the AAPC found another straw man argument. Japan should give up its beloved kei cars. Or rather the preferential tax treatment of the pint sized cars.

“Japan’s ‘Kei’ super-mini car segment has consistently represented over 30 percent of the auto market, but no longer has a clear policy rationale to be provided preferential treatment,” the AAPC wrote in an opinion paper submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative.  Imagine the uproar it would cause if a foreign trade organization would dare to doubt the policy rationale behind preferential treatment of the American pick-up. There is nothing that precludes the importation of foreign kei cars to Japan. If there would be foreign kei cars.

Of course it would be more honest to say: “Look, 2.5 percent import duty on foreign cars brought to the U.S. is low enough, who wants zero like in Japan. We want to keep that tariff. We especially want to keep the 25 percent chicken tax on trucks that worked so well. Exports to Japan? Are you kidding me?” That would be honest, but honesty does not get you far in politics.

Nobody knows that better than the former governor of Missouri Blunt, who did not run for re-election after one term, rocked by scandals. He chose a career in lobbying, which got him the job as AAPC president last year. Blunt riles against non-tariff barriers that unfairly prevent the success of American cars in Japan, but Blunt is hard pressed to name the barriers when asked what they are.

In an interview with Inside U.S. Trade, Blunt said that the AAPC will not develop an exact list of barriers its members face in Japan. Blunt said that would be a “classic whack-a-mole” approach under which the United States would seek to address one barrier only to have another one pop up.

Come on, Matt Blunt. Release the documents.

Meanwhile, the AAPC “is fully supportive of the ambition of a 21st century TPP agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.” No wonder, they don’t have much of a car industry.

In the unlikely case that Japan should succeed with that TPP business in an election year, Blunt could always declare an emergency and shoot them.


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Lies, Damn Lies, And The Closed Japanese Car Market Wed, 16 Nov 2011 14:14:13 +0000

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 0.0% 158 -35.4%
Aston Martin 9 0.0% 15 -40.0% 109 0.0% 99 10.1%
Hyundai 2 0.0% 12 -83.3% 70 0.0% 194 -63.9%
Saab 6 0.0% 1 500.0% 55 0.0% 42 31.0%
Rover 5 0.0% 5 0.0% 37 0.0% 52 -28.8%
Morgan 2 0.0% 0 15 0.0% 11 36.4%
MG 2 0.0% 0 9 0.0% 6 50.0%
Detomaso 0 0.0% 0 3 0.0% 1 200.0%
Unimog 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 4 0.0% 1 300.0%
Kia 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 3 0.0% 3 0.0%
Autobianchi 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 2 0.0% 2 0.0%
Mini 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 1 0.0% 3 -66.7%
Subaru 0 0.0% 0 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Others 8 0.0% 11 -27.3% 60 0.0% 56 7.1%
Total 19,647 100.0% 14,766 33.1% 226,295 100.0% 183,453 23.4%

The argument that Japan ships more than 200 cars to U.S. for every car the U.S. sends to Japan only proves one thing: The klutziness of American carmakers when marketing their cars in Japan. Around 70 percent of the cars imported to Japan are from European carmakers, and you won’t hear a European carmaker complain about a closed Japanese market. Even Japanese carmakers out-import U.S. brands ten to one.

Sure, European cars fit the taste of the Japanese consumer better. However, a halfhearted attempt to import truly European Opel cars to Japan ended in disaster. Ford likewise seems to be disinterested in leveraging its strong European presence in Japan. Both have ample RHD models from their sizeable U.K. presence.

It’s much easier to say “those crafty Japanese must have closed their market somewhere, somehow” than simply to admit: ”We NSFWd up.”

In the meantime, American carmakers worried about another Japanese onslaught have Japan’s government as their biggest ally: It seems to be more interested in protecting aging Japanese rice farmers and big Japanese insurance companies from bad American influences than in helping its auto industry.

Free trade would be in the interest of the American farmer who is one of America’s most important exporters. Even if U.S. carmakers would receive an engraved invitation to Japan, it wouldn’t matter.

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