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As Hyundai continues to pull itself up by its bootstraps, the company is moving decisively and picking up share around the globe. However, one key market continues to be so problematic for the brand that they've decided to abandon it altogether: Japan. Rather than dodder around and wait for its disappointing performance to improve, Hyundai is tying off the bleeder that is the company's Japanese market presence. The cars themselves, either under Hyundai badging or as Kias, have become contenders in terms of styling and quality, two key indicators of the company's commitment. And the move into Japan was part of Hyundai's worldwide plan for expansion. For all its efforts, though, the famously insular market has deflected this outsider. In the eight years Hyundai has been selling vehicles in Japan, it has only managed to shift 15,000 units.

For all its efforts, 1,875 cars per year just isn't worth it to Hyundai, though it will still try to sell commercial vehicles to Japan. According to the South Korean daily, Chosun Iibo, tariffs are slapped on outsiders selling cars in Japan, and the size of some models Hyundai's been trying to market there doesn't match up with typical Japanese garages and parking spaces. Buyers who have the space for larger cars aren't the ones Hyundai's trying to nab, either. Those purchasers typically pursue higher-end metal.

Interestingly, rival Toyota might see Hyundai's move as a sort of victory. Toyota itself established a beachhead in the more-welcoming South Korean market in 2000, and has been selling thousands of vehicles there under its Lexus and Toyota nameplates. While Hyundai is giving up on Japan, Toyota's looking to move more cars than ever in South Korea.

[Sources: CNBC. Chosun]


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  • 68 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      For those who think Japanese auto market is closed (which it used to be), note that many European cars were cheaper than in the UK or in France during 2008 when Yen was a lot weaker than now (say 150yen/Euro). BMW still costs nearly double the price in South Korea compared to the price in Japan. You can see the prices in Japanese BMW, Mercedes and etc. websites. Also, Hyundai was cheap in Japan but you should go see their dealers and see their dealer network in Japan. Apparently, Toyota dealers are every where in Japan within probably like 10 minutes drive from your home. Why buy a car similar to Toyota at 15% discount with 50% less service?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's simple, Hyundai just can't sell cheap candy to chocolate masters.
        • 5 Years Ago
        clearly you are an ignorant moron full of hate against korea
      • 5 Years Ago
      According to my gaydar and the picture supplied, the Sonata certainly has a following with the gay Japanese male.
      • 5 Years Ago
      this makes sense, as asians, believe it or not are actually far bigger brand snoots than european or americans.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To everyone saying that Japan's protectionist culture has led to their economic downfall....how do you explain the "Buy everything from China and 3rd world countries" culture not doing a damn bit of good for the US economy?

      People need to stop buying goods from Japan period. The government can't tell us to do it, because Japan buys a good portion of our country's debt, but if the US public refused to buy their goods, they might be forced to open their borders. (highly doubtful anyway)

      Japan's abuse of world "free trade" should have brought huge tariffs to all of their goods entering the US. All of their government's business support and currency tampering, coupled with competing against their labor with national health care, should have brought huge tariffs to Japanese cars long, long ago. I don't believe in a "Free Market"....I believe in a Fair Market.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'll follow your lead.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Vincenzo, it is costly to have a car here, but no more so than in Europe (I don't know about America). You certainly don't have to pay more tax for a foreign car. Road tax is based on engine displacement, not nationality. As for crushing 10 year old cars, that's just absurd. After your car is 3 years old you need an inspection every 2 years. That does tend to get more expensive as time goes on because older cars often need more work doing. Again, this isn't much different to a lot of European countries. Also, insurance isn't particularly expensive here; a lot less than in the UK, for instance. The upside is that people don't drive around in the under-maintained, rusted out deathtraps I've seen in the US.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Why you buy Japanese car?? Did you know How Japanese cars have grown up until these days?
      Japanese is a best “Selfish protective trade” country in the world. Japan export their goods to foreign. but Japan never want import anythings.
      Yes, some people will say, i think the reason is these days foreign cars are not better than Jap car..But the fact is Japan had the selfish trade for the past 50years,and keep continuing,

      Such as, GM, Ford, Hyundai ,we can see the in all of the world.
      But in Japan there is no Hyundai, GM, Ford and foreign car company,
      Even though other foreign car companies branched out in Japan, Japanese government and Japan car companies made unfair situation to foreign cars.

      These days Japanese cars’development is because of their Selfish protective trade and fascist and racism mentality. and the money from world who bought Japanese cars.
      I Hate Japanese cars, because i have Right reasons. Now it’s time to study about Japanese’ Selfish and fascist mind and their trade and
      plz think about this problem before you sucking up the Toyota and Honda.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, It is a originally Japanese society problem.

        "An independent investigator for the UN says racism in Japan is deep and profound, and the government does not recognise the depth of the problem."
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4671687.stm

        Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home
        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/business/global/23immigrant.html?ref=world
        We worked hard; we tried to fit in. Yet they’re so quick to kick us out,” he said. “I’m happy to leave a country like this.”


        "I experience racism daily," says Robert Jefferson, a black radio correspondent for ABC News in Tokyo. Jefferson says Japanese avoid sitting next to him on trains or taking the same elevator.
        http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101880815-149882,00.html
        • 5 Years Ago
        You have "Right" reasons?

        Anyone else seeing red lights and warning bells going off like crazy?
        stealthebeatles
        • 5 Years Ago
        Joe Schmoe:

        American companies were pushed out of Japan by high tariffs after WW2 that were put in place to promote the growth of a domestic auto industry. This is the whole reason Toyota exists. Ford and GM had until that point shipped knock-down kits to Japan and had a kind of duopoly on the market.

        Therefore, the reason that American companies didn't dominate the market is because of the government's protective policies.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The UN can go f@ck themselves, they are the the pets of the NWO group. They never did anything good for anybody, they only suppress the national identity of countries favoring the 3rd world immigrants.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You need English lessons more than any person of Japanese descent living in Japan today. The sad thing is, you are probably a redneck from the USA, a place where English is the official and primary language.

        Think this has something to do with GM, Ford, and Chrysler not being able to penetrade the Japanese market? Yep.

        Back in the day, American auto companies failed in Japan because they lacked the basic marketing strategy of tailoring their goods for the intended market. For example, if you want to sell cars in Japan, make them RHD.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They might be an insular market but that guy in the ad looks like he LOVES his Sonata


      http://everyroadtaken.wordpress.com
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you think the Japanese are xenophobic, consider this article by the NY Times about Korean "pure blood" attitudes and then explain how you can feel the least bit sympathetic about a Korean company not succeeding in Japan due to insular attitudes and tariffs.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/world/asia/02race.html?_r=2&ref=global-home&pagewanted=all

      "when South Koreans refer to Americans in private conversations, they nearly always attach the same suffix as when they talk about the Japanese and Chinese, their historical masters: “nom,” which means “bastards.” "

      "a recent forum to discuss proposed legislation against racial discrimination turned into a shouting match when several critics who had networked through the Internet showed up. They charged that such a law would only encourage even more migrant workers to come to South Korea, pushing native workers out of jobs and creating crime-infested slums. They also said it was too difficult to define what was racially or culturally offensive. “Our ethnic homogeneity is a blessing,” said one of the critics"
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is quite difficult for foreign automakers to gain market share in Japan.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is obvious result. Even Samsung and LG sells only a minimum amount of their products to maintain their branches in Japan.

      Nationalism in Japan is more than what Americans may think of. If you can't get the image of Japanese nationalism, simply think of Kamikaze, a suicide bombing that was widely practiced during the pacific war.

      The only foreign company that succeeded in Japan, as far as I know, is Alfa Romeo. They sell as good as 6000 units per year in Japanese domestic market, which is marvelous result comparing it to the other foreign automobile manufacturer branched in Japan.

      Also, Hyundai is not a matured company. Not just yet. Of course, their recent moves are more than just impressive and surely getting more than A average in the U.S. market; but it is just not, as far as the wide range of consumers are concerned, yet what people call "it" company.

      However, with the premise and the actuality of Japanese Domestic Market given, Hyundai's failure in Japan is forgivable, although it does not compensate the fact that they failed out miserably.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Zip I think the work you mean is insular, not secular.
        • 5 Years Ago
        just look at the video game market in Japan...Xbox360 is the best of the current game consoles, yet they have only sold a few hundred thousand Xbox360's in Japan compared to over 10 million each in USA and Europe.
        Japanese people are still somewhat facist and live a bit like an ancient culture with the same disgust towards foreigner and women as they had during world war II. They are a very secular society.
        • 5 Years Ago
        First of all, your comments on Japanese commercial nationalism is pretty much spot on. Even the Germans are barely holding on there in terms of sales. The mix of consumer patriotism, Government policy, and unique product preference makes the JDM next to impossible to penetrate.

        That said, the Kamikaze comment is just ignorant, xenophobic, and unnecessary.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Zip: Could you imagine if Western Countries such as Australia, the US, Canada and the UK had immigration policies akin to those of Japan. There would be cries of racism and intolerance. That said, I WISH we had immigration policies akin to the Japanese.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Human Rights Report: Japan
        http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/eap/119041.htm

        "Despite legal safeguards against discrimination, the country’s large populations of Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, and Filipino permanent residents–many of whom were born, raised, and educated in Japan–were subject to various forms of deeply entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, and employment opportunities. There was a widespread perception among citizens that “foreigners,” often members of Japan born ethnic minorities, were responsible for most of the crimes committed in the country. The media fostered this perception although Ministry of Justice statistics showed that the “foreigner” committed crime rate, excepting crimes like illegal entry and overstay, was lower than the crime rate for citizens.

        Many immigrants struggled to overcome obstacles to naturalization, including the broad discretion available to adjudicating officers and the great emphasis on Japanese language ability. Aliens with five years of continuous residence are eligible for naturalization and citizenship rights. Naturalization procedures also require an extensive background check, which includes inquiries into the applicant’s economic status and assimilation into society. The government defended its naturalization procedures as necessary to ensure the smooth assimilation of foreigners into society."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Indirect Trade Barriers is the proper term here. When cars from overseas go through inspection at the port, they “find” problems to fix, increasing the cost per vehicle. When the non-Japanese car makers look for dealers and distributors, they find a network beholden to the domestic companies and no laws to force competition. Add to that the government actions of stimulating technology development with grants and buying US securities to boost the value of the dollar to make Japanese made vehicle more affordable here.

        If GM and Chrysler didn’t have to worry about competition in their home markets, they would have never been forced into bankruptcy, and they would have been much more focused on growing outside of the US.

        The US should get tough in their negotiations with Japan (and China) to eliminate these barriers… but they own too much of our national debt to get tough with. Our economic growth is not sustainable!
      matthew
      • 5 Years Ago
      Brian, Jeremy and the rest of the One-Worlder's:

      Do you realize that this "global economy" you speak of so positively, isn't being done properly at all? Japan has the right idea by being somewhat isolationist and protecting their domestic economy.

      The only problem for Japan in the 90's and now is that they ARE connected to the global economy. They were able to make massive economic progress since WW2. They became one of the wealthiest nations on earth.

      Do you really think that this "global economy" is healthy right now? All the money is flowing from the de-industrialized developed world to places like China and India because they actually make things there now. Considering that the USA and a lot of the EU is very globalistic, and their economies have taken a real beating, and even with massive bailouts(pure financial book-cooking fiction) and billions of dollars printed and backed by nothing, they're still piss-poor. The USA still claims to be the wealthiest nation on earth. That's like the guy who got an ARM he couldn't afford on a huge house saying "he's the richest guy in the neighborhood" even though he's about to be forclosed on.

      Think a little bit about the repercussions of the financial policies you tout as being beneficial. All this money-changing-hands is equivalent to making goods and profits for real, isn't real. You can live in your delusional world of financial fiction, but the facts are the facts. Japan is doing absolutely the right thing by being selfish. Who ever made a profit or who ever created something by being altruistic? That's like trying to build a skyscraper while donating your concrete and steel girders to charity. It just doesn't work.

      Mutually beneficial trade between nations has been the foundation of real global economic growth since the beginning of time.

      Looting and plundering isn't the same thing. Why would Japan be stupid enough(like the USA) to undermine their own economy? Why do you condemn them for NOT destroying their own economy as the USA has? Do you want to see everyone as miserable and poor as you, so that you can be more comfortable in your stupid delusions?

      Mr.Ed:

      Like the USA wasn't built on slave labor? Most of the people here buy slave made goods today. They're not made by people toiling in fields, they're toiling in sweatshops thousands of miles away. Out of sight, out of mind. They don't want to believe that their iPhones, Nike's or Abercrombie and Fitch fake fashion is unethical, but it is.

      Aznauto:

      You're partially correct. American auto makers are total dinosaurs that need to go extinct once and for all. They've looted the US government for years and just got billions again. Their union policies were the thing that did them in and cost us all billions. They HAVE began to pander to American consumers' tastes. The problem is that American consumers have no taste. They've become a bunch of TV commercial believers, who will buy into any illusion.

      Look at the fashion industry. People think that the brand on their sweatshop-made clothes or shoes makes it "good". They wouldn't know good clothing if someone dressed them in it, as a general rule.

      As a result to this pandering, rather than creating products that informed consumers want(why do they go to Toyota, Honda etc. instead, and why is GM bankrupt?) they put iPod interfaces and came up with advertizing campaigns that say "we've screwed you for years, we'll stop now if you buy our cars! PLEASE!"

      Zip:

      The Xbox 360 is quite possibly the worst videogame console in history. It's loud, lacks the features of the PS3, the innovative control system of the Wii and just generally sucks in every way. It's unreliable, and red-rings are very common, requiring people to send back the whole unit to be "fixed".

      Microsoft royally screwed the consumer with the Xbox, but they were stupid enough to put up with it. I made the mistake of buying one, so I could play a specific game with a person I knew. It's been sitting in the closet, unused for a very long time, where it'll remain until I give it away or destroy it for amusement.

      It overheats even in my beautifully open glass entertainment stand. It's incredibly loud to the point of necessitating ridiculous volume to overcome the noise of the fans. The PS3 is much quieter even under full load and is more powerful. The Xbox controller battery pack, and everything is tacked onto the price. It ends up being MUCH more costly to own than the technically superior PS3. That and the ergonomics of the controller are absolutely appalling.

      All the popularity of the Xbox proves is that people in the USA don't know good design from poor design.

      Motor_Yakuza:

      I love you. Well said
        • 5 Years Ago
        @matthew
        Zip, you are so full of bs with you human rights and UN mambo jambo, just take five and relax, get that tree out of your a$$ and use your mind. The human nature is to form groups based on nationality, religion, ideas or race, it's in the human DNA for generations and generations. The hippie ideas won't be accepted by most people, and if they don't leave the nations and their people alone we will assist to a huge racial and religious civil war.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @matthew
        But, problem is... American suffered by japan mostly.

        GM, Ford, Chrsyler, Big3 crushed by Japanese car makers.
        Japanese car market share in US = 45%
        Korean car market share in US = less than 4%

        America Electronic industry was crushed by Japan.

        America Momory industry was crushed by Japan.

        RCA taught TV technology to Japan, But, Japan destroyed US.

        US Steel taught Steel technology to Japan, But, Japan destroyed US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @matthew
        Matthew, if you hate everything American as much as you say, why don't you just leave. Or maybe give Dr. Kevorkian a call.
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