Japanese Want To Stick With It Until Their Car Commits Seppuku

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
japanese want to stick with it until their car commits seppuku

Next to Buddhism and Shinto, there is a third, equally important religion in Japan: “Seken tei wo kinisuru,” or be mindful of ones reputation. Japanese are neat, and polite, and they very much care of what their neighbors think. You don’t see many old and decrepit cars on Japan’s streets. Would be bad for your seken tei. Buying a new ride every few years is just the right thing to do. Make that “was the right thing to do.”

Most of the Japanese are now dead set to hang on to their current car for its dear life. Only if it dies will they set foot into a dealer again. This is the result of a study conducted by The Nikkei (sub) and C-News, a marketing data service operated by Yahoo Japan Value Insight Corp.

The question was simple and straightforward: “What do you plan to do with your current car?” 56.5 percent of the respondents said they would drive it until it breaks down, then buy a new one. Only 10 percent chose “replace it with a new one, as soon as I find a nice model.”

The former standard behavior was to drive the car until the first mandatory safety inspection comes up. “Drive it until the next inspection, then buy a new one” now is the choice of only 18.8 percent of the respondents. Japanese repair shops will like to hear that, because it takes work and money to keep a Japanese car up to snuff for the inspection. The first one is due after three years. The next ones every two years thereafter.

At least the Nipponese don’t plan to give up driving altogether. “Drive it until it breaks down, then I will stop owning a car” (3.8 percent,) and “get rid of it as soon as possible, then I will stop owning a car” (0.5 percent) are not very popular, and no seken tei enhancing options.

Japan’s domestic auto sales fell last year to their lowest level since the mid-1970s. According to data released by the Japan Automobile Dealers’ Association, sales of new cars, trucks and buses slid 6.5 percent to 3.212m vehicles last year, down from 3.434m in 2007. 2009 looks like another down year. Especially if the Japanese do as they said in the study and will stay with their current ride until its death will tear them apart.

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  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on Jan 10, 2009
    Several recyclers import used auto parts. A JDM engine is significantly less costly than an overhaul or buying a local used or rebuilt engine. The engine blocks, rusty from shipping, clean up well. My mechanic does a compression test, installs new spark plugs, and changes the oil and filters. They almost always start right up. The recycler replaces the rare bad one. It depends on which engine you're buying. Engines popular with tuners, such as Nissan's SR20, Mitsubishi's 4G63, or Toyota 2JZ engines will be assesed with the 'JDM tax' to the point that it's cheaper to buy a local engine or get your current one rebuilt. There's also the risk of unscrupulous importers selling engines as JDM, but in reality they're sourced from local vehicles.

  • Martin B Martin B on Jan 11, 2009

    In 1991 I visited family in New Zealand. They drove second-hand Subarus. Apparently a Ford assembly plant in NZ had recently closed because everyone was buying second-hand Japanese imports. Many governments try to keep them out to support the local auto industry, but the price is so attractive that they come in via the "grey market" nonetheless.

  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?