Japanese Auto Makers Crack The Closed Market

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
japanese auto makers crack the closed market

While the eternal debate about whether Japan is or isn’t a closed market continues to rage onwards, the Nikkei reports that a new phenomenon is occurring in Japan: imported vehicles from domestic brands are starting to trickle in.

Previously, only a very limited number of imported nameplates trickled into the Japanese market. The Ohio-built Honda Accord Coupe was one of the most famous examples, with right-hand drive units sent back to Japan and marketed specifically as an American-built vehicle.

Even though the yen has weakened – a key factor in the decision to set up overseas manufacturing facilities – Japanese OEMs aren’t so eager to move production back home. As the Nikkei reports

In some cases, the economies of scale from building cars where they sell the most makes those vehicles more competitive than those produced domestically. So the automakers are moving to import these models to beef up their domestic lineups… ‘Each automaker has taken risks to conduct capital investment abroad, so it’s unlikely that the trend to manufacture locally will change as a result of exchange rates returning to earlier levels,’ says Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association Chairman Fumihiko Ike.

While models from lower cost locales like Spain, Hungary and Thailand will be brought to Japan, Honda will be bringing the Ohio-built Acura NSX over, albeit as a low volume halo car. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting twist of events, given that the Plaza Accord and voluntary export restrictions aren’t too distant a memory for many people.

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  • Pch101 Pch101 on Oct 16, 2014

    It sounds as if the Nikkei got this backwards. According to the Japan Automobile Importers Association: New registrations of imports by Japanese automakers, January-September 2013: 53,389 New registrations of imports by all automakers, January-September 2013: 257,837 Market share of imports by Japanese automakers: 20.7% New registrations of imports by Japanese automakers, January-September 2014: 36,939 New registrations of imports by all automakers, January-September 2014: 250,400 Market share of imports by Japanese automakers: 14.8%. Their imports by Japanese automakers actually fell by 31%, faster than the import market as a whole. In any case, that's not a lot of cars in either instance. Japan's auto market is largely domestic.

  • Petezeiss Petezeiss on Oct 16, 2014

    Slow Nikkei day.

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