Posts Tagged ‘VW’

Toyota Takes the Sales Crown Again

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Tokyo-based Toyota Motor Corp. has held on to the global sales crown for the last three years as the world’s top-selling automaker. As you well know, Toyota is the owner of three distinct and popular car brands: Scion on the lower end, Toyota in the mid range, and Lexis as their luxury vehicle line.

That’s not to say that Scion is a cheap auto brand. Scion was created initially so Toyota could appeal to a younger audience. At the time, the average age demographic for people who purchased brand-new Toyota vehicles was 44 and rising. Toyota created Scion to lower that number and appeal to a new generation.
Let’s not forget that Toyota makes the Toyota Camry and the Prius Hybrid – one of the top selling vehicle models in the world thanks to its sleek design, excellent gasoline economy and luxurious feel.

Toyota does not expect the auto industry to grow or shrink in the world’s largest markets – namely, the United States and Japan. Emerging markets – such as Thailand and Indonesia – have sustained steady growth in the last three years. However, even they are expected to plateau in 2016.

Almost Overtaken by Volkswagen AG

In the first half of 2015, Volkswagen sales exceeded that of Toyota. However, an emissions scandal was revealed within Volkswagen. Brand-new Volkswagen vehicles were found with software installed that cheats emissions tests. As a result, Volkswagen sales plateaued off, leaving Toyota with the sales crown.

VW are quite likely to be reeling from the diesel emissions cheating scandal for quite some time, not only experiencing lost sales due to flagging consumer confidence in their brands, but also as the result of potentially enormous financial penalties. On the other hand, Toyota will be secretly pleased that they have stuck to their hybrid solution as the world turns from diesel to hybrid, and ultimately, pure electric cars. All of which would seem to almost guarantee Toyota the 2016 crown as well — even though that race hasn’t even started yet!

10.23 Million Vehicles in 2014

Toyota has sold an impressive 10 million+ vehicles per year since before 2014. In 2014, they sold 10.23 million vehicles. This year, Toyota has sold 10.098 million cars and the auto giant expects to sell 10.114 million vehicles in 2016. These numbers have more than a handful of auto manufacturers squirming in their seats.

Toyota Surpassed Everybody – Including Detroit-based GM

For over 70 years straight, the world’s top-selling auto manufacturer was General Motors in Detroit. If you recall, Toyota had a rocky start in the 1980s. However, in 2008, Toyota stole the global sales crown from under GM’s feet and had been the world’s top-selling auto manufacturer since – except in 2011. In 2011, General Motors took that honor.

Toyota Tops in New Consumer Reports Reliability Survey

Posted by Stephen On Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The recently released Consumer Reports Reliability Survey might come as a surprise to some. You see, Toyota topped the list, but it was their Scion sub-brand in the top slot. Toyota swept the top three, with the Scion, Toyota and then Lexus being named as the top three in terms of reliability.

A great result for Toyota. And even though this is a US-market survey, it would be unsurprising if the same results did not play out across the world.

Toyota themselves had 16 out of their 27 models earning the highest reliability rating. And even the Prius C hybrid, which had been criticized by the same magazine for having a stiff ride, noisy cabin and ‘cheap looking’ interior trim, rode home with honors, earning the magazine’s top overall reliability score. I guess their readership are not as picky as the editors clearly are.

Not Just Toyota – Other Japanese Brands Fare Well Too

Toyota was not the only Japanese auto maker to get exceptional results: Eight out of the top ten spots waved the Japanese flag. Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Honda’s premium brand Acura were listed in positions four through seven. The only non-Japanese auto makers to even crack the top ten were Audi (position number eight) and Kia (number 10).

It seems that Toyota is riding a wave of recent good news these last few days: This reliability report came out just as Toyota Executive VP Yukitoshi Funo announced that the company was on track to beat its record 9.37 million vehicles sold (set in 2007).

To put that in context, 2007 was the last year of boom before economic meltdown almost ended in the collapse of the world economy. Now, 2012 is hardly boom times all round, so Toyota is really doing a great job posting such excellent results in moderate economic times. Perhaps they will be able to hang on to the world number 1 crown despite Volkswagen’s avowed desire to dislodge them.

Figuring Out Reliability Ratings

The important thing to remember about this report is that it is essentially a survey of actual users. This data was compiled from approximately 1.2 million subscriber surveys, which means that the results are more indicative of real-world experiences than simple testing data.

Bottom line: If you are a consumer looking at buying a new car, this Consumer Reports data is going to give you the best understanding about how the car is likely to perform for you in this crucial area. And given that all modern cars can accelerate and have top speeds in excess of real world requirements, my sense is that this reliability survey is the performance data to really watch.

If you are looking to buy Japanese, the best place to go is the source – Japan itself. And if you want to buy from Japan, you’ll be best served by sourcing your cars through us, Integrity Exports. Email us at

Japan Car Auction Finds: VW Touareg 2003 V6

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Now that the Volkswagen Group is so close to its goal of world market domination, it’s hard to recall an earlier time when the VW line-up went Polo, Golf, Jetta, Passat. Sure, there were Sciroccos and Beetles adding spice to the range from time to time, but the bead-and-butter sales were these four principals.

Then VW, with one eye on the ballooning US market, decided to make an SUV. The year was 2002 and, at the time, the Touareg seemed like a rather odd addition to this traditionally conservative family. That was 10 years ago, and to celebrate this success, VW has just announced a commemorative Touareg X Edition.

The Touareg didn’t make it to Japan until 2003, but we found this very clean example of one of those first models in the car auctions here. It’s a top-of-the-range V6 model finished in that classic, understated VW silver livery. With a grading of 4.5 and just 77k kilometers on the clock, there’s still a lot of life in this car yet. Another 10 years, perhaps? See what you think:

VW Touareg 2003 front
VW Touareg 2003 interior
VW Touareg 2003 rear

Top Ten Japan Car Blog Posts of 2011

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The sun hasn’t quite set on 2011 just yet, but this is a good time to take a look back over the last year at the most popular posts on this blog.

So, without further ado, let’s begin with number 10….

10: The New Honda: Cars, Bikes and …. Home Power Generation

Honda Co-Generation System With Solar Panels and Gas Engine

We broke the story about Honda taking a new direction. In the past, Honda has been about cars and bikes. But in the future, Honda execs see home power generation as becoming a third pillar of their business.

Honda is not alone in this. Toyota — who also have a home construction subsidiary — and others are also looking into the idea of homes having their own power supply off the grid. The earthquake in March really pushed this to the fore, and I can imagine the Japanese carving out a leadership role in this nascent industry over the next decade.

9. Toray Teams up with Gordon Murray for TEEWAVE AR1 Concept EV Sports Car

Toray T-Wave AR1 designed and built by Gordon Murray

Once again, we were breaking this story in the English media long before it appeared in such motoring publications as Autocar. Toray may not be a name you are familiar with, but if you don’t know about Gordon Murray, I have to wonder where you have been for the past … at least 20 years.

The legendary former Formula 1 designer and creator of the McLaren F1 has in recent years turned his attention to the small, affordable and easy to construct. The thing is, he’s still in love with lightweight construction, so who better to team up with for the TEEWAVE concept EV sports car than Toray, purveyors of carbon fiber?

8. Japanese Car Auction Finds: Smashed Countach

Wrecked 1989 Lamborghini Countach Anniversary in the Japanese car auctions

There is something sad about a broken vehicle, but that’s even more true when the car in question was once a creation of sleek beauty. Now, the Countach has always been a divisive design. You love it. You hate it. The early 70s versions were certainly far ahead of their time. But then you come to the 80s and the Countach goes strakes, wing spoilers and Crocket and Tubbs bling. Anyway, this one was a great example of some of the more unusual vehicles you can find in Japan’s car auctions.

7. Suzuki Every Van EV Trials Start

Suzuki EV Every electric kei van next to Suzuki Swift Range Extender

While 2011 may not have been the Year of the EV, there was certainly no shortage of EV stories making the news from Japan. These kinds of kei truck EV conversions may seem rather prosaic, but the thing about delivery trucks in Japan is that they don’t require a huge range. So even with today’s battery tech, a Japanese local delivery company can get a day’s work out of the truck — and do so without polluting the urban environment.

6. Toyota Coms Single-Person Electric Car

Toyota Coms single-person electric vehicle EV

Not really a news story this one, but nonetheless the Toyota Coms post generated a lot of visitors obviously very interested to find out about this lesser-known Toyota electric car. Well, to call it a car would be a stretch. it’s more like a three-wheeler with a roof. Not that it is cheap, though. Which perhaps explains why it’s not in production anymore.

5. Japanese Developer’s 5 Minute EV Recharging System Wins Patent

If “range anxiety” is the zeitgeist of  automotive journalism in 2011, perhaps this invention could be the answer? A power source that could get your electric car back up to full charge in just 5 minutes. That’s what this enterprising Japanese inventor is aiming for with this patented recharging system.

4. Toyota’s New Space Launches “Pixis” Kei Car Brand

Daihatsu Move Conte - base model for the Toyota Pixis Space kei car

Not content to simply own Daihatsu, the leading kei mini car brand in Japan, Toyota has decided to launch their own Toyota sub-brand of kei cars. You will have to be a real expert to distinguish these from their Daihatsu siblings, though. The only real difference seems to be the badges.

3. New Toyota Aqua Gets 40 km/l – Debuts At Tokyo Motor Show in December

Toyota Prius c concept car perhaps shows Toyota Aqua hyrbid car styling

The Toyota Aqua will be sold overseas under the Prius name. We were not first to break the story this time, but by going directly to the Japanese media we were able to correct a lot of erroneous information about the newest addition to the Prius family in the English-language coverage.

2. VW Microbus Concept “Bulli” and VW Van-Style Suzuki Every Vans

VW Microbus-style Suzuki Every Van

This story was ostensibly about a VW show car called the “Bulli” (OK-looking car, terrible name), but most interest was in the way the Japanese customize Suzuki Every vans to make them look like modern-day versions of the VW microbus of the 60s.

Why VW has never followed up the New Beetle with a retro-style New Microbus minivan, I have no idea. After all, these Every van customizations show the interest that’s out there.

1.  KU:RIN Grabs Compressed Air Car Record of 129.2 KM/H

KU:RIN compressed air car snags record with 129.2 KM/H run on Ibaraki test track

By far the biggest story of 2011 with almost 2,500 views is this one about the compressed air powered car built by a club team at Toyota Industries Corporation, a Toyota group subsidiary specializing in air compressor development. Hardly a practical power source for the future of automotive travel, but you can’t deny the effort and ingenuity that went into this car that achieved a world record top speed of 80.3 MPH in September.

I hope you’ve enjoyed keeping up with car news from Japan with me in 2011. I wonder what 2012 will bring? What new tech, new models and new offbeat stories? Stay tuned and find out here as it happens.

Survey of International Drivers About EVs Reveals Surprises

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, September 17th, 2011

An international survey conducted by TÜV Rheinland shows that Toyota is the brand that consumers would be most likely to buy an EV from. Drivers in 12 important world markets were surveyed, representing both established European and North American markets, as well as emerging markets such as China and India.

When asked to name the company that came to mind when they heard the word EV, Toyota was by far the most popular response. 34% then said that if they were going to buy an EV, they would choose a Toyota, with 17.2% opting for Honda, 15.9% for VW and 14.6% for Nissan.

Of course, the irony of this is that of these top four, it is Nissan that is most aggressively developing and marketing EVs. If you are talking about next-generation vehicles, then it would be fair to say that Toyota has been more focused on gasoline hybrids, Honda on hydrogen fuel cells and VW on hybrid diesels. Perhaps Nissan needs to change its ad agency?

Of course, the results varied somewhat by country, with Germans putting VW at the top, and the French choosing Renault. But the interesting thing is that in both of these markets, it is Toyota that is sitting there in second place, indicating a consistent level of association between the Toyota brand and EVs across the board.

Tesla will probably want to disagree with this next result, but when asked which country was most advanced in EV development, the majority of respondents chose Japan (57%), followed by Germany (42%).

When asked about how to support the introduction of electric vehicles, most drivers asked responded that direct assistance to reduce the purchase price was top. This was followed by financial incentives to assist EV development, and then by tax incentives.

Of course, a major issue with any form of transportation is where we get the energy that powers it. In this regard there was strong general agreement internationally on the need to use renewable energy resources to generate electricity to power EVs.

Despite the green image of EVs, only German drivers said that they would get an EV for environmental reasons alone. Respondents in most other countries ranked this factor alongside the issue of cost.

On the flip side, limitations on driving range was the factor that was most likely to cause these consumers in Germany, France and the China to be hesitant in purchasing an EV. In Japan, the US, Portugal, Israel, Spain and Italy, price was the key factor in reluctance to purchase. Finally, in the UK and India most concern was about the lack of recharging stations (perhaps inflated by Top Gear’s recent shenanigans in Lincoln). Only in India was there significant concern about safety, but again this may be due to local sentiment in India caused by issues with the (ICE) Tata Nano.

Drivers most favorably disposed to EVs were in China, India and Italy. These drivers tended to list reasons such as concern for the environment, knowledge about EVs, and the fact that EVs tended to match their driving habits. The UK, Germany, Spain and France had drivers that were moderately well-disposed towards EVs. On the one hand, these drivers felt they had a moderate amount of information about EVs, but on the flip side the lack of relative importance given to environmental concerns stood out.

This interesting result puts paid to the stereotype that consumers in the emerging markets of China and India are most concerned with gaining mobility whereas it is the European and US consumers who have more cash to spare and therefore can afford the “luxury” of environmental concern.

In Portugal, the US and Israel, the survey found drivers relatively antagonistic to EVs. The primary reasons given were a lack of concern about the environment, as well as worries about safety. The relatively negative stance of drivers in Israel is particularly ironic for Project Better Place, whose Israeli founder has been pushing EV use in his homeland.

And the drivers who are most antagonistic to EVs? Well, they are in Japan (that has 3 of the top 4 car makers most associated with EVs) and Denmark (usually seen as a leader in clean energy and environmental concern). Interestingly, driver respondents in these countries listed EVs not matching their driving style, safety concerns and lower environmental awareness as the reasons why they are not interested in EVs.

I am not so familiar with Denmark, but I have to say that the Japanese drivers’ responses are somewhat surprising. First of all, Japan is a small country and most car journeys are relatively short (which is why the Japanese run up such a low annual mileage), so personally I would have thought that the stop-start urban driving that most Japanese do would be ideal for an EV.

On the other hand, the recent accident at the Fukushima nuclear facility, and the continuing power use restrictions imposed since its shut down must surely have turned some people off to the idea of electrically powered cars. If the US driver is concerned about the security (and human cost) of Middle East oil, the Japanese driver is now more worried about the safety of generating electricity using nuclear power.

Source: Response (Japanese)

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)

Audi Leads Import Car Sales Growth in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Despite the doom and gloom of the new car sales figures in the Japanese market, there is another more positive story developing and that is the increasing growth of the non-Japanese car brands in the Japanese market.

The leaders are the German marques, Audi, BMW and VW. In fact, Audi has had its best March ever in Japan with growth of 1.9% in sales, at the same time that other major makers have been reeling from the effects of the earthquake and tsunami disaster. New models in the A8 range launched in December 2010 and the A1 range in January this year have been the major driving forces in this growth.

Whereas sales of cars such as the Prius have been artificially buoyed by the Japanese government’s EcoCar incentive program, foreign marques were not able to take advantage of this as most of their cars failed to meet this scheme’s requirements. On the other hand, they have also not suffered the collapse in sales that occurred when this scheme ended.

Overall, sales of foreign brand cars are up 9.7% over the last year in Japan with a total number of cars sold reaching 182,829. On the other hand, to put this in perspective, this is still about 100,000 units less than the sales of Japan’s most popular model, the Toyota Prius.

Sources: TBS News, Response, Response (all Japanese-language)

Hiace VW-Minibus Lookalike

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, March 5th, 2011

The other day I posted about how you can find Suzuki Everys customized to look like VW minibuses in the Japanese car auctions. Well today I was taking a browse around a used car sales site in Japan, and I came across this one, which reminded me that similar custom jobs are sometimes carried out on the larger Toyota Hiace vans.

Of the two, I think I prefer the Suzuki Every version, but it is a lot smaller than the original, so perhaps the Hiace one would be more practical. What do you think?

Toyota Hiace VW Minibus lookalike custom car

Toyota Vitz (Yaris) Hybrid Coming Soon

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, February 5th, 2011

The upcoming Vitz (in Japan) / Yaris (everywhere else) hybrid is something else that is likely to be stealing some of the Prius’ sales appeal, putting further downward pressure on its sales after it has already lost its pre-eminent position in Toyota’s home market as I noted earlier today.

Although it is not expected to go on sale until 2012, the ever-expanding range of hybrid options even in the Toyota range itself must be drawing some potential buyers away from the original Prius.

In many ways, it makes a lot of sense to bring the hybrid technology to this small hatch segment that is most likely to be used solely for city driving, but the Vitz itself will be facing stiff competition from smaller and even more efficient models, such as VW’s hybrid Up, which is expected to return about 95 MPG.

(Source: Autocar, Autocar)