By on May 13, 2010

Japan is the land of crazes. There is a small, but steady imported car craze developing in  the land of the supposedly closed car market. Imported car sales rose 2.6 percent year on year to 11,642 units in April, the sixth straight month of increase, says The Nikkei [sub], citing data by the Japan Automobile Importers Association.

What helped car imports was the fact that more imported models became eligible for the government tax break on environmentally friendly vehicles. The obscenely strong Yen (last year, it took 110 Yen to buy a Dollar, now it’s down to 93 Yen) also helps matters, as it makes imported cars more attractive.

As usual, American cars are missing out. Also as usual, Volkswagen tops the import sales ranking for the fourth straight month. April sales were up 32.2 percent to 2,805 units. Japan’s most favorite import is a VW Golf.

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19 Comments on “Japanese Buy More Imports. Sadly, The Wrong Ones...”

  • avatar

    That the Yamaguchi-gumi and Sumiyoshi-kai are not falling all over themselves to drive blinged Chrysler 300s and Vettes is shocking.

    Shocking, I say…

  • avatar

    I struggle to understand your definition of “wrong”.

  • avatar


    Talk about crazes… I remember seeing something on TV that there were devoted Japanese fans of – are you ready for this – the Chevy Astro van! They had a club (or clubs) devoted to it. They used them to go camping, on vacations and the like. It was surreal. Do you know anything about it?

  • avatar

    The site is beyond awesome with Google translate working its magic. I wonder if the Astro club members bring Cucumber Pepsi with them on their camping trips.

  • avatar

    So the top import brand might sell 30,000 cars this year in a country with a population half the size of the US, and this proves how import friendly Japan is? Uh, ok.

    • 0 avatar

      It simply shows how much Japanese value imported cars: Not a whole lot.

      Sales are not a measure for import friendliness. Japan has a zero percent tariff on cars. Japan imports between 200,000 and 300,000 cars per year. That’s what the market takes.

      The numbers in Europe btw. are not much different (in the grand scheme of things) Sure, Japanese and Korean imports are a bit higher, but still, the bulk of cars bought in Europe are European.

      See also

    • 0 avatar

      Tariffs aren’t the only form of restriction available.

      , the bulk of cars bought in Europe are European.

      What’s a “bulk”? Numbers, please? Are you counting Opel as “European”? Ford of Europe?

    • 0 avatar

      (Sorry for the double-post, my edit is broken)

      Ford is currently the top seller in Europe. Has a foreign car company ever been a top seller in Japan? I don’t see how you can say the two are similar.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a discussion about imports. Fords and Opels made in Europe are European cars, not imported cars. In any case, both Ford and Opel are widely regarded as European, even German cars. They have been there longer than Volkswagen. And GM says it’s up to the Europeans to bail out Opel …

      As for “Numbers please?” – It is 1:24 am in Tokyo. I’m hitting the futon. Google is your friend. (Hint: Try ACEA – but be careful, a lot of foreign sounding cars are actually made in Europe, and a few European cars are imported from abroad…)

    • 0 avatar

      You can make a case for Opel to be considered German and not American. Personally, I think Opel is neither yet both, like Chrysler under Daimler. But Ford is an American car company, an American nameplate, even when they build their cars in Europe. The Ford family is not a German family, the headquarters of the company are in Michigan, not Germany. You could have Ford cars assembled on Mars and sold to space aliens and it would still be an American brand.

    • 0 avatar

      Brand yes. Cars no. Focus? German. Ka? Italian. Mustang? American. Of course they don’t sell that last one.

    • 0 avatar

      BDB–> Ford may well be an American company, but i don’t know anyone who considers Ford cars to be American, and if the cars are not considered to be American i can’t see how the brand can be. Ford has a long history in Europe after all, mostly selling cars designed and made in Europe for the European market.

      We don’t get any of the “American Ford” cars, apart from some grey import Mustangs at a cost similar to a new BMW 540. Those are recognized as American cars. I see maybe two Mustangs a year.

      Even 80’s Ford pick-ups are more common than any recent USA Ford, and i might even see the odd Econoline. Chevy vans from the 80’s and 90’s are a daily sight however. And one of my old neighbours has a black Astro van he bouth new in -89, still in mint condition. There was some kind of tax loophole that the chevy van and astro could exploit so there were quite a few of those sold in the early nineties. im getting off-topic here…

      Dodge and Chrysler are pretty much the only American cars we get, and those are selling pretty poorly. Im not quite sure what to think of the Chevrowoos.

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