Trying to end the fight with the strong yen, Japanese automakers plan to stand up to their South Korean rivals by focusing on the challenging European market.
During the first eight months of this year, all Japanese automakers saw their sales decline in Western Europe, with Toyota down 0.9% and Mitsubishi down 34.5%. On the other hand, South Korea did quite well in Europe, with Kia up 25.1% due to its aggressive market of the low-priced stylish cars and thanks to the free trade agreement with the EU. Hyundai’s sales were up 3.2% from 1.8% increase in 2007 and Kia was up 2.4% from 1.5%.
“It’s a tough region for Japanese companies to do well, and also if we use cars from Japan, of course it’s very difficult in terms of export,” Karl Schlicht, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Europe said ahead of the Paris auto show.
For some automakers, such as Daihatsu, Europe’s tough environmental regulations are a drawback, but for the others, this is what makes them fight in this challenging market. According to them if an automaker can fight in Europe, it can fight anywhere. Although Europe currently fights high unemployment, austerity measures and concerns about the future which keep customers away from showrooms, it is still seen as a major chunk of global auto sales.