B1 Intermediate US 252 Folder Collection
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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have more to do with Japanese consumer tastes, the abiding if outdated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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Why Ford And Other American Cars Don Not Sell In Japan

252 Folder Collection
Chloe Chen published on May 7, 2019
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