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Why Ford And Other American Cars Don’t Sell In Japan

Why Ford And Other American Cars Don’t Sell In Japan

When it comes to cars, Americans
seem to love the Japanese. But the Japanese don’t seem
to love Americans back. Japanese brands sell remarkably well
in the United States. Several of the best-selling automakers in
America are from Japan, and their products seem to dominate entire
segments in sales and critical acclaim. Japanese automakers sell so
many cars in the U.S. that they actually employ vast numbers
of American workers in factories around the country. Japanese automakers actually build a third of
all the vehicles made in the U.S. But the Japanese don’t seem
to be interested in America’s SUVs, pickup trucks, muscle cars or just
about any vehicle made by Detroit. Ford left Japan entirely in 2017. General Motors keeps a presence there, but
it is tiny — the largest U.S. automaker sold only 700 cars
in Japan in 2018. And people are divided as to why
and what, if anything, should be done about it. President Donald Trump has criticized the
imbalance, but so have U.S. automotive trade associations, who
blame Japanese protectionism. While there are no
Japanese tariffs on U.S. imports, a number of critics say there
are all kinds of technical barriers that make it harder for U.S. companies to sell in Japan. Here in the United States, when we
set regulations for fuel economy or safety or communications standards or whatever,
all of the automakers that sell and produce in the United
States are party to that conversation. In Japan, it’s a much more
closed process for regulatory compliance. It’s “these are the rules and
you will meet the rules.” Japanese producers have input into that
and suppliers, but it’s pretty closed to any external companies that
would be doing business there. But some industry experts say
that really isn’t the problem. Instead, the reasons U.S. cars are so rare in Japan, which
is the world’s third-largest car market, have more to do with Japanese
consumer tastes, the abiding if outdated stereotypes the Japanese have about the
quality of American cars, and the very different way customers shop
for vehicles in Japan. It is first important to note
that Japanese brands all but completely dominate local roads. More than 95 percent of all cars
sold in the country are Japanese. Imports make up the balance and
most of those are higher-end European luxury vehicles and sports cars. This is partly because the
Japanese have pretty specific needs. For one thing, space
is incredibly tight. Wildly popular in Japan are these
so-called Kei cars, which are tiny vehicles preferred by drivers who have
to thread their way through narrow streets and crowded cities. Kei Cars alone make up
40 percent of the Japanese market and U.S. automakers don’t make them. Americans, on the other hand, tend
to excel in making big vehicles, particularly pickup trucks and
large sport utilities. In recent years, American automakers have
scaled back or even entirely killed off their own lines of
compact vehicles, which are often still bigger than their
Japanese counterparts. In fact, many of the Japanese vehicles
sold in America — from sedans such as the Toyota Camry all the way up
to the pickups — are not even particularly popular in Japan. All three Detroit automakers have less
than 1 percent market share. One of the bestsellers, Jeep, sells about
10,000 vehicles in Japan a year. The Japanese car buying experience would
also likely shock many Americans, who often view a trip to the
dealership as one of life’s necessary evils. Much of Japanese business culture is
built around service and hospitality, and auto dealerships
are no exception. Japanese dealerships offer customers nearly
white glove service, and the way buyers choose cars is entirely
different from the traditional buying experience in the U.S. Whereas American shoppers will often choose
a car from what is available on a dealer lot, Japanese buyers can
often custom-build a car out of a catalog and then have it made for
them in a matter of weeks. A strong local supply chain and
local factories allow Japanese automakers to do this. Furthermore, quality of service
is often quite high. Dealerships frequently have amenities such
as cafes and complimentary car washes. They will also follow up
with customers sometimes even years after a purchase. Foreign automakers overall have had difficulty
adapting to this way of selling. Moreover, the Japanese have
longstanding perceptions of American cars as inefficient and unreliable. This somewhat outdated view originates in
the decades from the 1960s through the 1980s, when Japanese
brands were ascending and American automakers were plagued with criticism and
scandal over vehicles such as the Chevrolet Vega, the AMC Gremlin,
the Ford Pinto and the Chevrolet Corvair. And though American manufacturers have
made far more fuel-efficient engines in recent years, the U.S. has historically made some gas guzzlers
when compared with cars made elsewhere. Yeah, I think there is
a hangover for American vehicles. You know, what does an American
car say about you in Japan. That baggage is carried with that. Meanwhile, the Japanese rose to power in
the auto industry in large part on their reputation for building solid, efficient
cars that don’t break down. Of course, many observers note that American
autos have done a lot to close the reliability gap over the years,
and cars overall are able to log far more miles on the road than
they did even a decade ago. And U.S. automakers are adamant that they would be
better able to compete in Japan if the country removes barriers
that make doing business difficult. The trouble for Detroit is that Japan
is just one of the international markets where U.S. automakers have struggled. All three Detroit automakers have had
challenges in South America and Europe. While China which is the world’s
largest car market could become a tougher place to do business
with slowing economic growth, increased competition, and trade disputes. If something doesn’t change, U.S. automakers could become just that: American
companies that sell trucks and SUVs to Americans.

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100 thoughts on “Why Ford And Other American Cars Don’t Sell In Japan

  1. Why do you think American cars don't sell in Japan? Protectionism? Reliability? Vehicle size? Lack of dealer support?

    Is it worthwhile for U.S. companies to invest in the Japanese market?

  2. For 2018 (full year), imported foreign passenger car sales in Japan were 10.7% of the market (not including Kei mini vehicles which are technically not categorized as cars as their engines are limited to 600cc among other limits), and 7.0% with them. In 2018, the top selling imports and respective vehicle sales were as follows:
    1) Mercedes: 67,544 vehicles,
    2) VW: 51,961,
    3) BMW: 50.982,
    4) Audi: 26,473,
    5) Mini (BMW): 25,984.
    Whilst Jeep sold 11,438 cars, the next highest American brand was Chevrolet at just 878 cars – no joke, 878. They did better than Ferrari at 767, but a lot worse than Maserati at 1,453. But both Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Ford, are in good company. Cadillac sold 633 cars which is around Lamborghini's 543. Ford sold 484 cars. Both Rolls Royce and McLaren sold about 230 cars. Given that Bugatti sold 7 cars, you'd think that Pontiac was also a million dollar brand since it managed 11 cars.
    Chrysler, by the way, sold 49 cars in all of 2018.

    This is the thing: In Japan, I know exactly where to go to buy a Mercedes, a BMW, and even a Ferrari, because there are dealers around. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of US brands. In fact, I can't even recall ever having seen a US brand dealer in Japan, EVER. Clearly there is something wrong with the US approach if they can manage only a small fraction of what the Europeans do, and Ferrari and Lamborghini can outsell Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Ford combined. But this is really beside the point: if the US brands can't win in their own home turf (notwithstanding 25% tariffs on trucks), how do they expect to win overseas?

  3. When u make good products, consumers buy. Good example is IPhone. People around the globe bought them even it costs higher than in the State.

  4. All the commenters are a bunch of idiots. America leads the car industry and has always done. American cars look better too.

  5. even in Indonesia American car still struggling. Ford just close their office last year. Many people choose Japan car ( because they are often cheaper) or going straight to luxury European brand like Mercedes and BMW.

  6. American car makers have a lot to learn about making market orientated, quality cars. The client is king outside the US. Remember the GM fiasco with the Chevy Nova in Mexico 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. As japanese cars are very competitive it is no surprise that you don't see many Americans cars in Japan. You don't see many European cars (except for luxury cars) in Japan either.

    In Europe you don't see many american cars as well.

  8. Japanese are XENOPHOBIC and homogenous they support their own people as they should and dont create a beta welfare state thats why they dont allow immigrants and muslim refugees into their sanctuary of technology islands

  9. Quality Control. Cheap materials less reliable short life span bad transmissions build to fail less raw materials no metal treatment bad bearings cheap buttons and IC units lack of durability. Who want to add??.

  10. US car dealer plus Trump: you are gonna buy our car and you are gonna like it!
    Japanese car: how would you like to customise your car?
    the quality of japanese car made them popular even in china, their nationalist long term rivalry

  11. They were only a curiosity in Japan. I used to travel to Japan and saw Ford Taurus/Chryslers in showrooms BUT the American car company owners didn't do any work to find out IF THEY WOULD sell. They didn't AT ALL. The Japanese are very loyal to their own manufacturers and the North American cars especially at that time were or really bad quality.

  12. Sorry but we are still the leader of electric cars thanks to Tesla we still have hope for automotive industry in the future.

  13. This isn't rocket science to figure out. American cars are cheap pieces of crap in comparison to their European and Japanese counterparts, generally.

  14. Japan is just the Boss… they dont have almost no nature elements to make money like usa and many others with Oil …. they are just totally Legit Culture Based on a Strong disciplined and respect to absolutely everyone.
    Its like a piece of heaven where everyone act right and are happy doing everything right ! Very honest nice culture. I wish the world was more like them… just discipline took them this far.

  15. How can you say the new car last longer and can drive much more km! Thats so wrong!!
    I have a old Mitsubishi and a Nissan. 20 years old and 300 000km+ is no problem.
    If I buy a new car today, do you really belive it will last easy 20 years ? new cars are crap compare to old made.
    Today they just want to make money, before they wanted to make a good product.

  16. My whole family's owns Japanese cars and bikes i have 5 Japanese brand cars and my fav super bike kawaski z900 which is much better than harley Davidson

  17. Here!
    BBC already found the answer!

  18. If you want to sell an American car in Japan, it needs to fit Japanese need and it needs to sell on its "americanness". Japanese love American cars that look and feel American. That's why the Jeeps and Astro vans gained popularity. Japanese people don't want an American car that's trying to be Japanese because the Japanese companies have that covered and Japanese people are too proud to buy a like competitor from overseas, especially from the U.S. or Korea. You see, even the Koreans who are right next door, have had no luck with Japan either! German cars sell on their German-ness. That's that 5% you mentioned.

    You guys don't have a good understanding of the underlying, yet fundamental details at play here. Americans could easily copy the Japanese dealership style. They can copy the Japanese vehicle design style. Yet they still won't succeed because Japanese people are much too proud and nationalistic with their car buying. You'll only succeed if you're niche and not overlapping with Japanese mainstream vehicles. Even American re-branded Japanese cars do poorly there.

  19. Pretty simple…gas is relatively cheap in the US. American quality has improved a lot…but Japanese/Korean quality is still better.

  20. Simple!
    Small Cars = Less profit!
    People: Build small cars for us.
    America: NO. NO. We need more Profit.

    Japanese: Ok, we no buy yor caahr

  21. They don't sell because Japan is an unfair trading partner. They have a closed market that make it difficult for foreigners to make business there.

  22. 1:08 when there is no tariff but you are still complaining unfair ….. — you are just no good! can't you realize it???

  23. It's a predator-prey relationship when talking about the American dealerships
    and the consumer but in Japan the consumer is treated like a spoiled prince.

  24. 3:37
    Some people:
    I want to go to Japan because anime and J-pop!
    I want to buy a car like it was a luxury item 😅


  26. I don't think American cars are unreliable. I still wouldn't touch one with a stick, they look and feel cheap. Bottom shelf quality garbage, miles behind in anything that matters to customers.


  28. We tried a new Chrysler rental in 2016. It looked nice on the outside but the interior was like something from the early 2000. It did not handle very well either, more like my old Volvo 240, than a VW Passat. Recently we tried a Tesla 75D 2018 and I wonder if the wheels were straight going 140km/h. I think Tesla requires a lot of gimmicks to keep it stable, but I don't even trust the ventilation. Kept changing to recirculation while driving and the button is hidden away in a second menu. Crash waiting to happen. Looking forward to try the Volvo Polestar 1 and 2. VW ID.3 was super compact and looked more or less like a Golf with slightly upgraded design, something VW should have done a long time ago for the regular Golf. Now looking for EV family car with 400-500km range and good suspension and handling. Öhlins suspension on the Volvo Polestar must be awesome.

  29. My theory: Reliability. Japanese just make the best quality vehicles.

    But of course the space is a major reason.

  30. Ford and Chevy pickups aren’t suited for Asian markets. And that’s almost all they want to sell. Ford, GM and FCA will decline considerably before 2030. They may not exist as independent companies. It’s kind of arrogant to make vehicles designed to appeal to rural Americans, then demand other very different markets to buy them.

  31. “Modern Cars overall can get more miles then what they could’ve even a decade ago” Scotty Kilmer please knock this guy out

  32. there is not a single automaker nation on this planet where american brands have succeeded with their candy boxes on wheels.

  33. I think not only on Japan, but also entire asia, and the reason relibility

    1. Compared size, US have too much bigger size, it's to hard for mobilized. Asian peoples are small & most the road size too narrow.

    2. Efficiency Gas. Dude now day every country try to become free Emition gas vehicles, like Tesla ( why US not sell more tesla out US, specially asia ) sometime it's hard to find gas station out of town

    3. Overprice, i don't know why so over price with same car competitor. It's that for prestige or tax import maybe, i just believe production cost not too much different

    4. And offcourse sparepart… Dude really, such ford doesn't want to make sparepart factory or official 3rd party sparepart

  34. Japanese people used to say they buy the Japanese cars  because their cars are better than the American cars. Many years later American smaller cars fare much better. We don't see Sony TVs in the market in USA. Samsung took over. American consumers feel Samsung TVs are the best. Well in Japan they still buy Sony TVs and Samsung can't do business there. This goes to show the Japan people are all full of it. And we should raise tariffs on and boycott Japanese cars until they buy ours 50 / 50.

  35. Also the Korean Car Brands in Japan are not doing well, because of their oversized car body that not suitable on Japanese roads

  36. Who in their right mind is going to pay more for a import who or which ever reliable model you set your eyes on is going to be a disguise domestic that his rights or stake were bought a couple decades ago you know because Murica!💪

    Plus North America is the only place in the World that still produce OHV engine like is still 1960.😂😂😂

  37. It has to do with the JCI, that must be paid for every 2 years for the first 10 years than every year after that. It can cost $1500 for the JCI per inspection. That doesn't include r2 of any parts. Additionally, since the American cars are not the NORM they must replace parts with OEM rather than aftermarket parts. That includes tires, brake pads, filters etc. Also those parts would be imported from USA which causes another delay. Then when you finally pay for all that you have to pay for yearly road tax and then regular insurance.

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