While Detroit Complains About A Closed Japanese Market, Imports Are Way Up

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while detroit complains about a closed japanese market imports are way up

Detroit carmakers continue telling their fairy tale of the closed Japanese market, and their UAW members eagerly hang on their lips. Both don’t want to admit that their products are largely unsalable in Japan, and they blame the mythical bad Nipponese wolf instead. At the same time, sales of imported cars are up for the third straight month in Japan. Sales of imports were 35,841 in September, the highest since September 1996, data released by the Japan Automobile Importers Association shows.

January through September, sales of imported cars rose 13 percent in Japan to 233,609. The main drivers of imports are German and Japanese automakers. Volkswagen remains the leading importer to Japan, followed by Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Imports by Japanese brands were lifted by Mitsubishi bringing in the Thai-made Mirage and by Toyota exporting its Avensis wagon from the U.K. Nissan’s imports dropped nearly 18 percent in the first nine months. All in all, imports by Japanese makers dropped 1.6 percent in the first nine months, while non-Japanese increased their imports by 18.5 percent.

Affluent Japanese who want to demonstrate their individualism with their choice of wheels is a small demographic which American cars seemingly are unable to penetrate. Fords and Chevrolets keep being outsold by niche brands such as Porsche and Alfa Romeo. There is a small, but increasing market for Jeeps. Most likely, it is easier to cry about a closed market than to start selling in Japan in earnest.

Imports To Japan, Jan-Sept 2012YTD’12ShareYTD’11YoYVW41,97118.0%37,29012.6%Nissan34,51214.8%41,961-17.8%Mercedes-Benz30,64113.1%24,64524.3%BMW29,52412.6%24,00523.0%Audi18,3567.9%16,21413.2%Toyota13,5085.8%10,03134.7%BMW MINI12,1245.2%10,57614.6%Volvo10,3154.4%8,17226.2%Mitsubishi5,8842.5%1015725.7%Fiat4,3531.9%4,479-2.8%Peugeot4,2631.8%4,569-6.7%Jeep3,7911.6%2,40757.5%Alfa Romeo3,5601.5%1,542130.9%Porsche3,1461.3%2,59721.1%Ford2,9711.3%2,42122.7%Citroen2,9121.2%2,21531.5%Renault2,4031.0%2,3163.8%Land Rover1,1590.5%73058.8%Chevrolet1,1140.5%86428.9%smart1,0760.5%9908.7%Cadillac9410.4%1,037-9.3%Dodge8280.4%7835.7%Suzuki8080.3%2,895-72.1%Jaguar7960.3%7772.4%Chrysler4620.2%4492.9%Ferrari3800.2%29429.3%Maserati2390.1%20019.5%Lotus2040.1%216-5.6%Hummer1850.1%218-15.1%Honda1690.1%800-78.9%Bentley1470.1%8572.9%Lamborghini1260.1%6982.6%Aston Martin1200.1%10020.0%Lancia1010.0%7044.3%BMW Alpina970.0%114-14.9%Hyundai820.0%6820.6%GMC810.0%84-3.6%Rolls Royce590.0%63-6.3%Rover410.0%3228.1%Mclaren240.0%Saab200.0%49-59.2%Morgan120.0%13-7.7%Maybach90.0%90.0%Pontiac80.0%80.0%Unimog80.0%4100.0%MG70.0%70.0%Bugatti40.0%2100.0%RUF20.0%Ssangyong20.0%Zagato20.0%Artega10.0%Autobianchi10.0%2-50.0%Detomaso10.0%3-66.7%Kia10.0%3-66.7%Mini10.0%10.0%PROTON10.0%Saturn10.0%10.0%Buick0.0%8-100.0%DAEWOO0.0%2-100.0%GMDAT0.0%4-100.0%Opel0.0%1-100.0%Others550.0%525.8%Total233,609100.00206,64813.0%
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  • Mc Mc on Oct 04, 2012

    RR, Tariffs are only one of hundreds of tools available to close a car market. Who sold you on the myth that only tariffs are what count????? Here in Korea Hyundai and the ROC were able to block Prius sales for years. They decided that only LPG powered Hybrids could legally be sold in Korea... (why such a nutty meaningless regulation???) ... giving Hyundai an exclusive locked home market as Hyundai experimented with the tech. No tariffs was ever charged.. and no Prius or Volts could get in. Once Hyundai figured out how th make Hybrids they tooled up to produce gasoline hybrids for export and dropped the LPG-Hybrid only laws here in Korea. For government, it is so easy to set local regulations in rediculous ways to knock out foreign makers. If your local makers are asked to help write local regulations like in Japan and Korea... the game gets nasty... and as you RR pointed out "no tariffs" are seen. This is called non-tariff barriers. It's the Iceberg under the water.

  • CelticPete CelticPete on Oct 06, 2012

    Sure its bluster by Obama and the UAW the Japanese market is closed. The real reason is that Japanese for the most part want small cheap appliance cars and this is what the Japanese maket best. But this article is still thinly disguised US car bashing its not like the Euros sell alot of European cars over in Japan. For the most part Japanese like Japanese cars and Europeans like European cars... Here in the states we have alot of disgruntled baby boomer types turned off by crappy 70, 80 and 90s cars and thus we sell alot of european and Japanese cars.. In general though most markets stick with their own..

  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
  • Roger hopkins Why do they all have to be 4 door??? Why not a "cab & a half" and a bit longer box. This is just another station wagon of the 21st century. Maybe they should put fake woodgrain on the side lol...