• Mar 5th 2006 at 3:00PM
  • 6

As in the U.S., Japan isn't exactly known for their voracious consumption of diesel-powered vehicles. In point of fact, just a single derv-burning model, the Toyota Landcruiser Prado, remains on sale in the entire country.

The fuel's fortunes in Japan were significantly harmed by a number of tax code changes, as well as a damaging image campaign by then-governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara. As a result of these legal changes and public perception issues, diesel sales in Japan tanked. But with the rise of cleaner diesel and more efficient engines, Japan (like the U.S.) is showing signs that it may be more open to the gasoline alternative.

The potential impact of this isn't lost on Europe's automakers, who have long struggled for a foothold in Japan (they currently control just 4-percent of the market). Given that fully half of Europe’s new cars have diesel motivation, the continent’s automakers possess the lion’s share of the world's most advanced diesel technology.

Keen to once again test Japan’s waters for diesel acceptance, Mercedes is set to market an oil-burning E-Class, and the automaker has already pledged additional models. Volkswagen and Peugeot are among the other automakers weighing near-term possibilities.

For its part, the German automobile industry association VDA (Verband der Automobilindustrie) has already announced that it will petition the Japanese to 'go diesel,' and a Tokyo-based research institute is already predicting that 11-percent of Japan's passenger cars will be thusly powered by 2015.

[Source: Reuters via The International Herald Tribune]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Some odd Japanese laws restrict the amount of time you may use an engine in a car in Japan. It's 5 years or something like that. After this time, you must replace basically the entire block.

      This will hurt if you paid a couple extra $K for that motor the first time and have to "rebuy" it again a few years later. I can't see how you'd ever get your money back unless you drive huge distances each year.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Did you know that Vin Diesel's tears can cure cancer? Too bad hes never cried.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I think low aceptance of GOOD foreign products in Japan is a pity, especially because of the fact that Japan relies heavily on exporting products. But the same can be observed elsewhere (though to a lesser extent). If all countries were as liberal as i.e. Great Britain quality and value would reign over procedence. Let's hope we are all at least moving towards that.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The lack of Japanese marketshare held by foreign automakers is not totally dependent on the "good" auto product they make. It is dependent on anti-free trade practice, coined as "crony capitalism" practised in East Asia.

      "Japan's business circle often show signs of it being governed by outdated practices and in-house politics" Over two decades the Japanese have flooded open markets in Europe and North America. They have used their interest free loans, R&D subsidies, and government health care benefits to hide the true cost of manufacturing. This gives them the pricing and development edge in the "free trade" world. Foreigners essentially cannot distribute autos in these countries. Improbably limits on dealerships, parts, sales, and service stop successful market gain, not product. The Japanese goverment would never allow Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Subaru, to hang in the wind while GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Audi, Fiat, VW, Citroen, Peugeot took Japanese market share. Never. This has not been a battle about product, but government protection and subsidy.


      "Japan's keiretsu and South Korea's chaebol (business groupings) have established vertical ties with small-scale domestic producers and horizontal ties with one another. This strategy brings a wide range of transactions into a more controllable, closed system, reducing companies' exposure to the risks of opportunism and fluctuations in transaction prices in an unpredictable market. These large networks have evolved into industrial conglomerates.... distinctive trading style based on personal relationships -- in other words, crony capitalism."


      • 9 Years Ago
      The Japanese will not allow U.S. rice on their soil. It was on display in a sealed plastic case for an agriculture trade show, and the display was shut down, confiscated, and the presenters fined. The Japanese are a long way from having free trade with the U.S.
      Yet, our President Regan gave a one hour speech to a major Japanese University audience when he "retired" from the presidency, and received a check, for $2 million. Our pols are so corrupt, they won't stand up for the American worker and industries, and one of the reasons is cash payoffs.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Did you know that Vin Diesel's tears can cure cancer? Too bad hes never cried.
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