01 February 2016

Japan Local Import Comparison : 2015

The percentage of imported vehicles in Japan is small. Breaking down the sales helps clarify where they do and don't sell. First up is standard sized cars. Imports contribute 19.1% to that group, which is not too bad. However, it changes after that. Small imports 1.9% and the Mini size nothing to speak of. This brings the total of imported cars to 6.7% of all cars sold. That is very poor.

Cars: It's the small or Kei car size that seems to be the problem for foreign car manufacturers. It is a category that is assisted by government policy to make them more attractive. I think it goes back to past war times when they were encouraged to reduce fuel consumption. It helped Japanese car makers so was never revoked. Early 2015 and the advantage these cars enjoy was lessened, the effect is seem below with a 17.8% drop in sales. I'm not sure if that was a one off action or there will be more to follow.

What it shows is that it is a a hard market to sell cars in if you are an importer. Not competing in the Mini segment only exacerbates the problem. Imported cars did make up some ground in 2015, with totol sales down 10.3% while they were only 1.4% down.

Commercial: Amazingly virtually every commercial vehicle sold in Japan is a local brand. How they pull that one off the data doesn't reveal, but that would surely be unprecedented in an 'unprotected' market.

Total / Passenger Car Commercial Vehicle
Import Standard Small Mini Total Trucks Buses
Total 1,354,541 1,349,944 1,511,404 4,215,889 817,235 13,387
% +/- -5.8% -5.1% -17.8% -10.3% -4.0% 11.7%
Foreign 259,312 25,159 90 284,561 963 72
% Import 19.1% 1.9% 0.0% 6.7% 0.1% 0.0%

Data source: JAMA.

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