Why American cars don’t stand a chance in Japan

Subaru - Picture courtesy gawkerassets.com,jpg

The Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association released data of the best-selling name plates in Japan. One look at the list shows why U.S. carmakers are just a footnote of the Japanese car market: Big definitely is not beautiful in Japan.

Month April to September 2013
Ranking Nameplate Brand Units YoY Type
1 Aqua Toyota 127,993 -2.3% Regular
2 Prius Toyota 121,634 -19.2% Regular
3 N BOX Honda 110,155 -7.0% Mini
4 Move Daihatsu 107,591 44.5% Mini
5 Wagon R Suzuki 88,071 -8.7% Mini
6 Mira Daihatsu 76,690 -26.6% Mini
7 Fit Honda 67,918 -33.2% Regular
8 Note Nissan 66,259 101.0% Regular
9 Spacia Suzuki 64,003 0.0% Mini
10 Tanto Daihatsu 60,069 -31.8% Mini
Data Japan Automobile Dealers Association and Japan Mini Vehicles
Association. Full list here.

In the first half of the fiscal year (April – September), Japan’s best-selling car was the Toyota Aqua, in the U.S. known as the Prius c. In second place is the Toyota’s Prius itself. Six out of the ten best-selling cars in Japan are mini vehicles, those tiny boxes with a pint-sized 0.6 liter engine. The other two regular vehicles on the list, the Honda Fit and the Nissan Note, are not much bigger than mini vehicles.

The first larger vehicle on the list, the Toyota Crown, is on place 17, surrounded by more small cars.

Nearly 40 percent of all automobiles sold in Japan are mini vehicles, a type unique to Japan, and a type that has no market elsewhere. Foreign carmakers have no product in this segment, and they would be foolish to enter it. Larger cars are a distinct minority in Japan. It is no wonder that the best-selling imports to Japan are not big Mercedes or large BMWs. In the past fiscal year, the number one import was the Volkswagen Golf, followed by the BMW Mini.

Detroit’s lobbyists and democrat lawmakers in their and the union’s pockets can lie about closed markets and manipulated currencies all day long. It won’t change the fact that American cars simply don’t fit into the Japanese market, size-wise and otherwise.

Full ranking here.