2012 Volkswagen Up!
  • 2012 Volkswagen Up!
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  • 2012 Volkswagen Up!
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The initial prognosis for the Volkswagen Up! in Japan is going the same direction as the name of the car: three weeks after launch, 3,000 orders have been placed in Nippon. That beats Ford's sales total for the entire year and is almost a month's worth of BMW imports. Posting those numbers, Japan's Nikkei newspaper says the Up! "may beat the Golf subcompact to become the German automaker's most successful new-car launch in Japan."

The backdrop to this is that European and US automaker groups have been protesting what they see as barriers to the Japanese auto market, with many wary of entering into free trade agreements with the island nation. To put some numbers to it, VW led the table for share of the import market through September of this year, with 18 percent and 41,971 cars sold. That, however, is in a market expected to be worth 4.3 million cars this year, which would put VW at 1.3 percent of the total if the numbers before the Up! range's launch held steady. It's a vertiginous drop after VW, though. Audi, in fifth for yearly sales, has 18,356, while Fiat, in tenth, has 4,353. And those numbers are way up, with the top ten automakers save for Nissan posting meaty double-digit gains over last year. The Europeans are also wary of what has happened on The Continent after a free trade agreement with Korea has given a huge boost to Korean imports.

As far as VW Japan is concerned, it has no concerns. With Up! pricing competitive with the Japan-only kei-car segment, a VW rep told the Asahi Shimbun that their offering will "squarely challenge the small-car market" and that even if "the barrier against imported cars is lowered, we will still have opportunities." The German company wants to more than double its annual sales there to 110,000 cars by 2018. The Up! is giving it a good start.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 59 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
          scion_tc
          • 2 Years Ago
          LOL, I believe you are referencing a now 30 year old inspection process that's no longer implemented. Got a link for your numbers?
      scion_tc
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thanks you Autoblog for Deleting all of Rick's garbage.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        scion_tc
        • 2 Years Ago
        Rick keeps saying "NO LEVEL" playing field. Rick, give us specifics. I challenge you to prove your claims.
        GR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Rick, Your antics with lists and short-sighted arguments are getting old. You also seem to consistently ignore that the Japanese brands have built most of the cars they sell in the US in the US. The US-made Toyota Camry has more US sourced parts than most Chevys, Fords, and Chryslers. A comparable Ford Fusion is Hecho en Mexico, amigo. Also, just about none of the non-Japanese cars you listed actually meet Japanese Kei-car requirement specs. They have to fit into a certain rigid specification category to be considered kei-cars.
          GR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GR
          And nearly every Corolla, Camry, Accord, Civic, Altima, Legacy, Tundra, Avalon, Titan, etc. are made in the USA. Want to compare sales figures of these cars versus the ones you listed??
          MAX
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GR
          Every Prius, Scion, rear wheel drive Lexus, 4runner, Yaris come from Japan.
      GR
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've been arguing for a while that one of the main reasons the Japanese don't drive imports is because not many are designed for Japan. This Up! and its demand is good proof that if a car suitable for most Japanese comes to Japan, the Japanese will take interest and buy them. As the article states, the Up! is priced and sized to take on the Japanese kei-car segment, which is the largest segment in Japan. The size and pricing was the most important factor that many did not wrap their heads around. One only had to visit Japan for a few days to see that a Ford F150 had just about no place in most of Japan due to factors like narrow streets, small parking spaces, high fuel prices, high cost of ownership, high taxes, etc. The Japanese people are not really protectionist like their government may be. The Japanese actually take great interest in foreign products, especially from Europe and the US. The success of the Apple iPhone in Japan is good proof. The Japanese have domestically produced more advanced phones than the iPhone, but the iPhone had an unique appeal that many could not resist. Japan is the second largest market for Apple's iPhone as the US is first. In terms of cars, the Japanese domestically produced the best of what was fit for Japan. As cars like the Up! arrive and finally compete with the kei-car segment, the Japanese will take interest in foreign competition that finally makes sense. Many have criticized Japan's import trends without really understanding the situation there. The demand for the Up! is proof that if a foreign car suits Japan, the Japanese will take notice.
      scion_tc
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only people spewing the ignorance that the Japanese market is closed are UAW mafia types. They can't accept the fact they don't build any thing that would sell in Japan VW understands what would sell and builds it.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scion_tc
        [blocked]
        ss1591
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scion_tc
        VW has one car that is selling in larger amounts. Japanese people still would rather buy their own cars to support Japan. Their market is still closed off but at least its because the Japanese try to protect their own something Americans refuse to even try and do. Cars from Japan are really not much better at this point.
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wait, wait, wait... so selling about 50k cars by VW in a year, now means Japan is OPEN?!? Don't make me laugh. Japan sells that many cars in the US every few weeks. AB, if you aren't going to delve deep into this issue, I would suggest you just report on the Up!'s sales numbers and leave the whole trade thing out of your articles because it makes you sound like a bunch of clueless hacks.
        Temple
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        The failure of Detroit to sell cars in Japan isn't evidence of Japan being a closed market. Tariffs imposed on US cars is zero percent. The US charges 2.5% for cars and 25% for trucks. In fact, Japanese car makers are importing US-made cars back into Japan. The top selling cars in Japan are the Prius, Fit, and 660cc kei minicars. This is a country where the US Civic is considered 'too large. Gas is near $7 a gallon. Parking in Tokyo can be over $1,000 a month for a large car, while parking a kei minicar can be fraction of that but its still expensive. Near 40% of cars sold in Japan are 660cc kei cars. The VW UP! is a car that fits this market; which is why its selling. Ford has expansion plans in Japan, with their Fiesta and Ecosport, But they'll need to build up their dealer network. Up till now, Detroit quite simply have not made competitive small cars. GM still relies on Daewoo to make theirs. You gotta build cars that meet the need of the consumer.
          Hazdaz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Temple
          Your comment about zero tariffs is disingenuous. While the cars themselves might not have tariffs on them, there are still many hurdles for a companies to import cars into Japan. There are dealership restrictions. Issues dealing with setting up factories and businesses as well as loans that all very heavily favor the home team. Those are just some of the reasons why its easier for Toyota to export cars they build in the US and import them into Japan - they know the rules and regulations and how to work the system. And do not get me wrong, I fully understand that for the most part, Detroit has NOT built too many cars that would be popular in Japan... I get that. Between the piss poor quality back in the 80s and 90s, to simply being too big and thirsty. Then there is also the issue of right-hand drive, the language and simply different tastes. But the Europeans haven't fared any better than Detroit even with having more efficient, typically higher quality, smaller cars, and even having a history of making right-hand drive cars for the UK market. When a measly ~55k cars a year are considered a huge breakthrough for imports, you know there is something very anti-imports about a market.
      scion_tc
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like Rick is a Democrat. Keep telling the same lies over and over and over and hope someone believes you. Debbie Wasserman Shultz employs that tactic too.
        Teleny411
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scion_tc
        Please leave politics out.., This is a car blog. I can read people's political views elsewhere: if I cared to.,,
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scion_tc
        [blocked]
          creamwobbly
          • 2 Years Ago
          What's wrong with them? Compared to what's available domestically, they're shite. That's what. VW knows what it's doing: make a compelling product, instead of offloading "built-to-price" motorized wheelchairs.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scion_tc
        teebag..now i get it
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      creamwobbly
      • 2 Years Ago
      Proving that the only barriers to the Japanese market are lazy, lacklustre design and technology in a highly competitive field.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      scion_tc
      • 2 Years Ago
      Rick, you still looking for some evidence to backup your claims? I'll keep checking back all weeken to see you prove your claims.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scion_tc
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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