Japan’s Love Affair With German Imports Continues

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Does anyone out there remember the trade negotiations every year between Japan and the US in the 80s and early 90s? It usually seemed to revolve around Japan opening its doors more to US car imports.

Well, here we are decades later, and looking at the sales of import cars in April 2011, no progress has been made: Ford is the highest-placed US maker, who sold a  massive …. wait for it … 186 cars in April. Not just 186 of one model – 186 Fords total.

On the other hand, the top of the import charts is absolutely dominated by German (and honorary German – Mini brands. VW leads the pack, with 2,970 cars sold, well ahead of BMW (2,260) and Mercedes (1,755). BMW’s Mini brand rounds out the top 4 with sales of 1,181 cars. That’s 8,166 new vehicle sales between these top 4 brands, which accounts then for 66% of the import car market.

Now that is what I call market dominance.

Despite the crash in Japan’s domestic makers’ new car sales in April, sales of import cars have risen 21.6% over the previous year. But before you get too excited about Japan’ auto market finally opening up to foreign cars, let’s put this in perspective: Even with sales down 43.7% in April, Japan’s car makers still far outsold their foreign rivals at home. The whole import car sales total for April is more than swallowed up by the April sales of Honda’s Fit and Toyota’s Prius – respectively the number 1 and number 2 best-selling cars in Japan during April.

Source: JAIA (Japanese-language)

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