Overseas carmakers led by VW delivered more vehicles in Japan in the first 11 months of this year than in all of 2012, expanding their record share of the world’s third-biggest auto market.
According to the Japan Automobile Importers Association, registrations of imported passenger cars from foreign brands rose 16.3 % from a year earlier to 246,915 vehicles in the January-November period, which allowed an expansion of their market share to a record 9.3 %.
While Japanese carmakers’ domestic sales have declined, foreign automakers are boosting deliveries. Volkswagen’s refreshed Golf hatchback won this year’s Car of the Year award in Japan, the first imported model to receive the accolade in its 34-year history. Half of the models placing in the top 10 were by overseas brands, based on a Car of the Year Japan Association poll of auto journalists.
“The appeal of import cars is in their design and brand recognition, and I think the fact that they’re coming out with smaller models more fit for the Japanese market is helping growth,” said Yoshiaki Kawano, a Tokyo-based analyst at IHS Automotive. “Their market share can still grow.”
Deliveries for Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen, the biggest overseas brand in Japan, increased 18 % while Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, the second-biggest importer, rose 32 %.