By on January 26, 2010

Here is an interesting facet of the “the Chinese car market is bigger than the American car market” meme:

In 2009, Japanese automakers have, for the first time, built more cars in China than in the U.S. reports the Nikkei [sub]. Says the paper: “Of the eight Japanese passenger carmakers, six manufacture vehicles in China. Their aggregate Chinese output came to roughly 2.25 million units in 2009, exceeding the 2.1 million produced in the U.S.”

Which pours cold water on the often voiced theories that people base their car choices on ethnic prejudice. Japanese people are not necessarily hugely popular in China. Japanese cars are.

With double digit growth rates again forecasted for China this year, while in America even the most optimistic prognosticators point to the mythical year 2012 for the big turn-around, Japanese manufacturers are enlarging their footprint in China.

Nissan and Honda are expanding their passenger car factories in China. Toyota restarted a suspended factory construction project. Mazda wants to set up its own production system in China after dissolving its three-way Chinese joint venture with Ford and Chang’an

And here is a carefully crafted statement by the Nikkei: “The sharp expansion of their Chinese operations will likely prompt Japanese automakers to re-evaluate the positioning of their domestic production facilities in a global context. Hit by the strong yen and the sluggish U.S. market, exports by the eight Japanese passenger car makers fell by nearly half to about 3.44 million units in 2009.”

Translation: Japan will most likely export even less in 2010. And quite possibly, Made in China Japanese cars may reach other shores.

Speaking of ethnic prejudices: Political correctness has yet to reach Romania. An article of the Romanian National Vanguard News Ageny, belatedly titled “China to overtake the West in the auto-industry,”  begins as follows: “Lesson for whites: never teach a non-white any trade if you want to keep your nation strong. Europeans taught the Chinese how to build cars, now China will overtake everyone, all Europeans and whites all over the world will lose their jobs due to cheap labor from China.”

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5 Comments on “Japanese Build More Cars In China Than In The U.S....”

  • avatar

    The real head-scratcher is that the Japanese brands do nothing to hide their origin, unlike the widespread practice (admittedly, mostly in consumer electronics) in the US for corporations to buy old and trusted brand names (one example, Westinghouse) to slap on Chinese goods. I’m pretty sure that if a TV had “Cheng-Shen” (or some such name) on the front that American buyers would shun it (Which they will on any full car, when it arrives)- which makes the Chinese acceptance of Japanese-branded stuff unexpected. (But, the government guides thought on the subject, to be sure).

  • avatar

    Why should the Japanese brands hide their origin? They would be stupid. “Toyota”, “Honda”, “Nissan” et al have tremendous brand equity in China, beating out “Cheng-Sen” easily.

    If the value proposition is o.k., the “ethnicity” of a car doesn’t play a role, except in the dreams of the UAW. When someone says “Buy American,” everybody will nod vigorously. And then they will go to WallMart. Adolf Hitler’s pet project, the Beetle, became a big hit in the USA shortly after the war.

  • avatar

    I was thinking that the long animosity between China and Japan (WWII) had crossed generations – apparently, I am mistaken; which is a good thing, the dying echoes of a bygone era.

  • avatar

    Despite putting it in perhaps the crassest of terms, the romanian paperman has it right. The student will now take over the teacher’s class and eat his lunch too.

    Many claimed that chinese economic and political growth would not be at the expense of the West, because the West would keep a step ahead … it will be impossible to keep that lead … If China handles growth properly and manages to keep a lid on social issues, by the virtue of scale effect alone, it will cast a long, long, shadow.

    I don’t have anything personal against the chinese, I liked every one I’ve ever met, and each of them have as much right to a good standard of living as I do. But in the medium term, economic development seems much more like a zero-sum game than I think anyone ever expected it to. (Western companies and countires that invested in China were looking more to “unlimited market potential” and profits than to “am I creating my competitor or new boss.”)

    The West’s rude awakening is beginning. The effects will be wide and deep. I suspect the economic and political leaders are aware of this, but don’t have any solution.

  • avatar

    As I always say the Chinese are at the very top of their demographic curve right now. The only way forward is now down. Not today or tomorrow but 10 years from now and in 20 years from now they’ll be like Japan today going more sideways than forward. But then a lot can be done in 20 years.

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