Germans Trump Lexus In Japan. And Bloomberg Blows It Bigtime

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
germans trump lexus in japan and bloomberg blows it bigtime

Japan’s March 11 tsunami had more destructive effects than just washing pint-sized (ok, ok, 0.6 liter sized) kei cars to the top of Japan’s sales charts. It also resulted in considerable menboku o tsubusu (literally “breaking of face”, dishonor) for Lexus. On its home-turf Japan, Toyota’s lux-brand was outsold by doitsu (German) BMW, even by Mercedes, a brand said to be popular with the yakuza. Speaking of major menboku o tsubusu: BMW did certainly not top Toyota, as Bloomberg insinuates.

Data published by the Japan Automobile Dealer Association shows Lexus with 1,789 sales in May. In May, BMW sold 2,292 cars in Japan, while Mercedes sold 2,096. Hot on Lexus’ heels: Audi with 1,615 cars sold in May.

The JADA List. Sales of all brands in Japan, May 2011

RankMakeMay ’11May ’10ChangeRank YTDYTD ’11YTD ’10Change1Toyota48,733112,174-56.6%1394,683693,631-43.1%2Nissan37,98743,623-12.9%2223,944289,117-22.5%3Suzuki36,47347,658-23.5%3216,846284,290-23.7%4Daihatsu32,47944,075-26.3%4205,253271,686-24.5%5Honda28,91044,294-34.7%5201,400278,896-27.8%6Mazda12,15517,542-30.7%674,954103,186-27.4%7Mitsubishi10,55211,456-7.9%763,78279,299-19.6%8Subaru9,71512,254-20.7%861,32077,083-20.4%9VW3,8593,6346.2%918,50619,232-3.8%10BMW2,2922,599-11.8%1311,41110,7266.4%11Mercedes-Benz2,0962,0611.7%1411,40712,130-6.0%12Lexus1,7891,889-5.3%1113,95317,010-18.0%13Isuzu1,6483,066-46.2%1014,67817,476-16.0%14Audi1,6151,33121.3%168,0936,59222.8%15Hino1,0781,878-42.6%1211,99312,428-3.5%16BMW MINI9161,003-8.7%174,7664,21813.0%17Mitsubishi Fuso8941,573-43.2%158,7109,156-4.9%18Volvo88052966.4%183,7182,80432.6%19Fiat50836240.3%212,0531,9385.9%20Peugeot4804692.3%202,2492,04310.1%21UD Trucks323769-58.0%192,5783,267-21.1%22Porsche26720729.0%231,2571,407-10.7%23Jeep262126107.9%261,10768860.9%24Ford22919020.5%221,3261,2486.3%25Renault22215246.1%241,2571,14310.0%26Citroen19216814.3%251,121524113.9%27Alfa Romeo15411533.9%2790365238.5%28Cadillac956448.4%2959138553.5%29Jaguar7183-14.5%3143737516.5%30Chevrolet70430-83.7%287412,930-74.7%31Land Rover695427.8%3239927744.0%32Dodge674259.5%33308326-5.5%33smart5463-14.3%3046833938.1%34Chrysler534226.2%34256392-34.7%35Lotus2728-3.6%37111124-10.5%36Ferrari2630-13.3%3516914020.7%37Hummer2528-10.7%36124198-37.4%38Maserati181428.6%3894116-19.0%39BMW Alpina8633.3%395278-33.3%41Hyundai718-61.1%403888-56.8%40Bentley78-12.5%442858-51.7%42Saab61500.0%432940-27.5%43Lamborghini36-50.0%41352920.7%44Rolls Royce3342336450.0%45Maybach114542100.0%46Opel1100.0%461148GMDAT472-100.0%47Bugatti4849Ruf49Other452955.2%2342215.9%Total237,364356,147-33.4%1,567,4202,207,997-29.0%

Lexus can find solace in the fact that year-to-date it still leads the Japanese premium market with 13,953 units sold. This lead most likely will not last long. A shortage of Made-in-Japan cars could entice Japanese customers to give foreign brands a hard look, followed by their hard cash. As mentioned last week, sales of imported cars rose 31 percent in Japan last month, a trend that is likely to increase as the year goes on.

The Japan Automobile Importers Association shows only the imports. It also shows the cars manufactured abroad and imported by Japanese makers.

The JAIA List. Sales of the imports of all brands in Japan, May 2011

RankMakeMay ’11May ’10ChangeYTD ’11YTD ’10Change1Nissan3,274481750.0%20,6495736126.3%2VW3,8593,6346.2%18,50619,232-3.8%3BMW2,2922,599-11.8%11,41110,7266.4%4Mercedes-Benz2,0962,0611.7%11,40712,130-6.0%5Audi1,6151,33121.3%8,0936,59222.8%6Toyota91676519.7%5,3284,21126.5%7BMW MINI9161,003-8.7%4,7664,21813.0%8Volvo88052966.4%3,7182,80432.6%9Peugeot4804692.3%2,2492,04310.1%10Fiat50836240.3%2,0531,9385.9%11Ford22919020.5%1,3261,2486.3%12Porsche26720729.0%1,2571,407-10.7%13Renault22215246.1%1,2571,14310.0%14Suzuki320366-12.6%1,1552,008-42.5%15Citroen19216814.3%1,121524113.9%16Jeep262126107.9%1,10768860.9%17Alfa Romeo15411533.9%90365238.5%18Cadillac956448.4%59138553.5%19Honda10023334.8%472674-30.0%20smart5463-14.3%46833938.1%21Jaguar7183-14.5%43737516.5%22Land Rover695427.8%39927744.0%23Chevrolet5660-6.7%362414-12.6%24Dodge674259.5%308326-5.5%25Chrysler534226.2%256392-34.7%26Ferrari2630-13.3%16914020.7%27Hummer2528-10.7%124198-37.4%28Lotus2728-3.6%111124-10.5%29Maserati181428.6%94116-19.0%30Mitsubishi161060.0%60100-40.0%31Aston Martin123300.0%583948.7%32BMW Alpina8633.3%5278-33.3%33GMC7540.0%524320.9%34Hyundai718-61.1%3888-56.8%35Lancia9580.0%382365.2%36Lamborghini36-50.0%352920.7%37Rolls Royce330.0%336450.0%38Saab61500.0%2940-27.5%39Bentley78-12.5%2858-51.7%40Rover34-25.0%1825-28.0%41Morgan108633.3%42Pontiac110.0%7475.0%43Maybach110.0%42100.0%44MG21100.0%4333.3%45Unimog0446Buick01-100.0%330.0%47Autobianchi1021100.0%48Kia1249Mini0012-50.0%50Opel10110.0%51Saturn01-100.0%12-50.0%52DAEWOO02-100.0%53GMDAT02-100.0%Others6520.0%1929-34.5%Total19,23814,69131.0%100,59475,96732.4%

Japanese import trivia: Japan’s largest importer is Nissan. It outdistanced perennial leader Volkswagen by successfully importing the March from Thailand. As you can see from the table above, other Japanese makers are cautiously jumping on the import bandwagon.

More Japanese import trivia: Someone found 124 Hummers this year to be shipped to Japan. Cadillac sees huge (percentage) gains.

Even more Japanese import trivia: Bloomberg was sucked-in by the importers list and blew the story big-time. They headlined: “BMW Tops Toyota in Japan as Quake Hits Lexus.”

Macho BMW does not top Toyota. The 916 Toyotas in the JAIA list are Toyota imports. The JADA list shows that in May, Toyota sold a total of 48,733 units, 21 times the number of BMW. Toyota remained comfortably in the #1 position, whereas BMW held a respectable #13 year-to-date. In May, BMW rose to Further climbs will be tough.

Instead of visiting Tokyo BMW and Audi dealers, Bloomberg could have checked the JADA list when it came out. It would have made for a more meaty story (“Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes Top Lexus in Japan”) and it also would have spared Bloomberg a considerable amount of facebreaking. A little more study of JADA data would have told Bloomberg that there’s not much of a story anyway: Lexus had closed-out 2010 with 33,365 units sold. BMW was less than a thousand units behind with 32,426. What do you expect with Japanese factories closed while they are working overtime in Munich and Dingolfing? A miracle?

Things happen fast in the interwebs. “BMW Tops Toyota In Japan” already has 1,530 hits on Google as I type this. Before we know it, it will be in Wikipedia, where “the threshold for inclusion is verifiability, not truth.”

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4 of 23 comments
  • Bryce Bryce on Jun 07, 2011

    An old fashioned pint is 600ml or .6 litre

  • Wallstreet Wallstreet on Jun 07, 2011

    Bertel, Why is Opel such an "exclusive & rare" brand in Nippon? I'm curious as how do their salesmen survive based on the volume?

    • See 1 previous
    • Wallstreet Wallstreet on Jun 07, 2011

      @Bertel Schmitt Thanks, I learn something new.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.