Volkswagen's Tiny Up! Busts That Allegedly Closed Japanese Market Wide Open
Volkswagen’s ultracompact Up! is taking Japan by storm. Three weeks after its Oct. 1 release, orders for the up! have exceeded 3,000 units, The Nikkei[sub] writes.
The Nikkei thinks the diminutive 1-liter vehicle “may beat the Golf subcompact to become the German automaker’s most successful new-car launch in Japan.” The 2 door version costs 1,490,000 yen in Japan, about the price of a decently appointed kei car. Converted to dollars, it’s $18,600, but that’s with tax and converted from obscenely high yen to obscenely low greenbacks. Trust me, in Japan, it’s a bargain.
Can’t help but noticing: 3,000 Up! in three weeks, that’s what all of Ford sold in Japan January through September , and that’s more than double of what GM exported to Japan in the first nine months. If we believe the American Automotive Policy Council, then the Japanese car market is closed tight. But according to Volkswagen, it seems to be wide open to those who make what Japanese want.
It isn't just Detroit who has problems with Japan's rules. http://wardsauto.com/europe/european-auto-makers-leery-eu-japan-trade-pact 3,000 in 3 weeks isn't bad. Probably the best selling import from a foreign brand. From your own link, the imports of VW from through September were 42k. For the year, that would be about 56k. The new up might sell about 12-15k this year. So, maybe 70k vehicles this year. I believe the expected car market for Japan is 5.1M vehicles. This puts VW at about .14% market share. This isn't a closed market, right?
@onyxtape Thanks, that's fascinating. I thought it was some kind of style convention. And the case of your friend, that's kind of chilling in its relentlessly xenophobic way. Unfortunately I've known several Japanese/American academic couples whose children were given similar treatment in Japanese schools.
I guess the Japanese auto buyers are not familiar with VW's inherent quality issues, a far cry from their own brand's reputation for reliability.
Proof that when a carmaker makes a car suitable for the Japanese, they would buy it. Americans don't buy Toyotas either when Toyota sold the Japanese-market Corona and Crown as is. In fact Camrys did not get their first big break until the 'big' Camry comes out in 1992. Detroit will never sell cars in big number in Japan if they just bring their domestic market cars to Japan. Make a Kei car for Japan and see what happens!