As the Japan’s economy improves and many buyers try to stand out from the crowd of home built cars, foreign automakers make their biggest sales to date.
According to the Japan Automobile Importers Association, in the last fiscal year, which ended this March 31, foreign car imports have been on a steep rise – with a tally of 302,000 non-Japanese cars sold – which is the biggest figure since 1997.
While the figure looks rather unimpressive, the fact is that Japan is a traditionally hard market for imported brands, as the country’s car sales still make domestic brands account for around 90% of the total – mostly thanks to the so called “kei” cars – which are very small, get tax breaks, are easy to handle and park in crowded metropolis.
“I thought Japan was over after the Lehman crisis — expensive things didn’t sell and many foreign makers thought it wasn’t worth investing there,” said Kintaro Ueno, head of the importers association. “Last year presented the perfect chance to revisit Japan’s importance.”
Still, the foreign brands sales could be in for a hard hit, as since April Japan raised for the first time since April 1997, with car sales dropping overall 5.5% year-over-year and a whopping 24% for imported models.