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Detroit automakers have never had much success in Japan's closed automotive market. That was no doubt a major contributing factor to the Detroit Three's decision to skip the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009, and at least two of the three apparently won't be back in 2011.

AutoWeek reports that General Motors and Chrysler have announced they will skip Tokyo later this year. Ford hasn't yet officially announced if it plans to participate in the event, and a company spokesperson reportedly told AW that the automaker hasn't "decided where the motor show sits in our priorities." The move makes sense considering weak sales in the country. GM sells only about 2,000 vehicles per year in The Land of the Rising Sun, while Ford reportedly sold 3,047 units in 2010.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association claims that most European automakers, including the German luxury makes, will participate in the event.

[Source: AutoWeek]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      please Google.

      I don't know what the exact reason for US subsidiaries (eg. GM Japan, Chrysler Japan) for not spending money on promotion is but we certainly don't see much of US auto promotion. And, I think US auto manufactures should spend more money on advertising and promotion.

      Are they worried about the return, well... it is only my opinion but YES, I think so. Or they don't really care about the Japanese market to start with... We see lots of promotional activities by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz etc. Not much of US auto manufacturers nor do we see much of Jaguar, Land Rover who are also facing tough sales in Japan.

      Besides, just because we have the 3rd largest economy, it doesn't mean there's demand. People are simply not spending money, well... not as much as we used to, anymore and even domestic auto manufacturers are facing tough auto sales.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Smart move by GM and Chrysler. Why spend the time, effort, and moolah trying to cater to an audience that doesnt care? The Japanese are fiercely loyal to their own brands, even over here in the States.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What on earth do they have to sell that would be popular in Japan? Most cars sold in Japan are of the Kei car variety with tiny 600cc motors.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They are not going to spend a billion dollars developing such a car when they know it will be surcharged, taxed and tarriffed to death in that market. Profit margins are already razor thin on such vehicles. They would not be competitive and it isn't worth the investment.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Japanese are quite loyal to their domestic brands.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Erik: I disagree. How else can the Big 3 make awful cars for several decades and still remain the Big 3 in the USA? I'd argue the difference is not in the amount of nationalism, but the fact that the Japanese actually make good cars themselves so why would they buy imported American ones that don't even fit their tastes? I'm sure that now that the Big 3 make decent products, they'll claw back marketshare from Toyota and the like.

        Also, the Japanese seem to love iphones, LV and mcdonalds these days so I'd say it's a problem in the product..
        • 4 Years Ago
        A very foreign concept here in the USA, no pun intended.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Japanese are loyal to their domestic brands but at least they have a reason to be. It's not like their domestics have been churning out notoriously unreliable product for the past few decades.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Do we make cars that the Japanese want? If the typical Japanese consumer buys a car with an engine that is under 1 liter in displacement, are they interested in cars where the smallest engine is well over 2 liters, let alone a Camero with a V-8 in excess of 6 liters.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Here is a relevant example.
        Honda recently canceled the Civic in Japan. Why, it's too big and doesn't sell. The Honda Fit is about the largest car that sells.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What? We don't sell tons of cars there?


      That contradicts completely what a salesman at a Chrysler dealership told me two weeks ago!

      He said that in Japan, they buy more US built cars than Japanese cars!

      Because they know that they are better built!

      I just held my quizzical look and said 'Really!'

      'Yup. A lot of people don't know that.'
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Honda Civic is not cancelled in Japan: http://www.honda.co.jp/CIVICHYBRID/

      And lots of cars are larger than micro cars (which admittedly sell well):

      And Japanese do not hate Americans and American products (e.g. iPod and iPhone dominate the smartphone and music player market). But American cars are not very popular given the strength of the domestic product offering. Not a lot of Fords sold in Germany either, but people don't jump in claiming how the Germans hate Americans - they just don't see much in American cars.

      And, lastly, there are a lot of places in Japan outside of the big cities where cars are the primary mode of transport and there are plenty of larger-than-micro-car cars.

      A lot of wishful thinking or mis-information here today...
        • 4 Years Ago
        ignatzhomenez, yes Honda is cancelling the Civic. Yes the Civic is currently sold as your link shows, but they are winding down inventory and will not be continuing sales of the Civic in Japan.

        • 4 Years Ago
        There are quite a few Fords on German roads and a research devolpment center the headquarters of Fords European operations are in Colonge Germany.

        " Not a lot of Fords sold in Germany either, but people don't jump in claiming how the Germans hate Americans - they just don't see much in American cars."

        Been 20 years since I was in Germany Ford had a strong presence there then.
        The new Fiesta and Focus we are about to get were developed there.

        As for the Tokyo auto show, I think the big 3 should show up with their best small and mid size offerings.
        Let the Japanese drool over what they can`t have.
        It would be a goodwill gester worth doing.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Re the Civic, I stand corrected on the Nikkei link. As a long-time resident of Japan, I still suspect something is lost in translation here. I'm wondering if the *current* generation will be stop-sold until the refresh or something. I suppose it's possible they really won't sell any civics in Japan, but it's hard to fathom, honestly. But point taken.

        Re the Ford, poor choice of companies on my part. I wasn't really thinking about how big FoMoCo is in Europe. It was more a comment about how countries with strong domestic auto presence aren't necessarily anti-anyone when they don't buy foreign cars. Change it to Chyrsler and the point stands, whether we're talking Germany or Japan.

        But, wrong twice in one day, I'm shamed to admit. Thanks for keeping me honest, AB.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Good decision.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think it's a good thing that these two are not investing in a market that's shrinking, and should invest more in one that's growing (China).

      And though there aren't explicit tariffs on foreign vehicles, the Japanese buy primarily Japanese - even when other good quality cars are out there.

      In the US, Hyundai has been in essence eating into Toyota's/Honda's sales, yet in Japan, their sales are ZIP as of 2010.


      And mind you, all imports to Japan are heavily outnumbered by the domestics - the domestic portion of the JDM is about 92.2%.


      Translated, "imports" as a whole totalled 14,849 units in a market that sold 187,154 in January 2011.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, I had no idea their sales were that low in Japan. Anyone know how they keep out GM and Ford? Import taxes? Do people there stick to Toyota and Honda out of national pride?
        • 4 Years Ago
        lol don't listen to that guy. Japan has 0% tariffs on autos unlike the US actually. The main complaints are about cost-raising inspections for imported vehicles and a confusing distribution network that only Japanese understand or something. The thing is that these complaints I've heard only seem to come from Michigan lobbyists so take it all with a grian of salt.

        Unfortunately for that whole argument, the luxury German makes sell more cars than them for some reason despite all these barriers. Maybe that means they just need to sell better cars. I can't think of a single small car the Detroit 3 sells to Japan that the Japan would buy over a JDM kei car. The American companies just don't make cars that work for the average Japanese person and the niche luxury markets are taken by the German automakers already.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BS. The US auto makers don't make any cars that they would want to buy. there are plenty of foreign cars over there. All european however.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Can anyone name one American-made product which the average Japanese consumer would buy en masse, given their $6/gallon fuel and punitive parking and taxation costs on cars larger in size than the average B-segment?

        Answers on a postcard to Big 3 Living in Fantasyland, Detroit, MI.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Incredibly high import tariff on foreign made cars and they're hugely loyal to the Japanese automakers. It doesn't help that many Japanese people don't care much for Americans either.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Do you have some specific information of this rumored taxation? Or is this more UAW propaganda?
        • 4 Years Ago
        He's right. I wouldn't expo in Tokyo if I were of the Big Three either.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very good point. I believe GM is #2 in China, behind VW. It makes more sense to go after a market which, with increasing income in most demograhics, has an incredible sales potential.

      Unlike Japan, the Chinese know about American cars. Buick was the car of choice of the Chinese royal family, and the Chinese public still looks favorably on the Buick brand.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ sean:

        "do you know anything about china at all? there is no royal family in the china that you know today (established 60 years ago, very very short compared to U.S. or pretty much every other big nation). 60 years is too short to form any sort of royal family."

        Umm... only in America do we think that 60 years is a long time. China had an imperial family for centuries, before being overthrown in 1912 - and the last one (Emperor Puyi) left the Forbidden City in 1924 and died in 1967.

        That being said, Buick always benefited from that association, and many still see Buick as a solid brand, in a market awash with (presently) mediocre makes.

        • 4 Years Ago
        The majority of Buick models available in China were traditionally sourced by Opel and GM-DAT.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Buick was the car of choice of the Chinese royal family"
        do you know anything about china at all? there is no royal family in the china that you know today (established 60 years ago, very very short compared to U.S. or pretty much every other big nation). 60 years is too short to form any sort of royal family.

        Buick was successful in china largely due to Hollywood movies. the previous generation of Chinese was raised in the environment where import are strictly controlled. few American movie that were imported to china all featured Buick as a symbol of American life style, as that generation get rich, they want to buy cars of their dream, and that's why Buick is doing so well.

        that and the fact that Buick in china doesn't suck.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why spend the money to wedge into a tight and nearly closed market in Japan when just 300 km West is Shanghai and the world's largest market??
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Europeans sell plenty of cars here. It isn't a closed market, just a choosy one. How many American cars do you see anywhere outside of North America (apart from China)? Shanghai is more like 1000 km away from Japan, by the way.
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