Historically, the Japanese auto market has been a tough nut to crack for foreign automakers. The country's buyers have a reputation of preferring driving vehicles from domestic companies. However, the last fiscal year that ended in March indicated that things don't have to be so insular. As Japan's economy improved, imported models have seen their sales surge.

According to Bloomberg, the last fiscal year was one of the best ever for foreign automakers in Japan. There were 302,000 imported vehicle sales, the best since 1997, and they had an 8.8 percent of the non-kei car market share, the highest since 1989. Granted, domestic cars still dominated the market with roughly 90 percent of the country's business.

Volkswagen led Japan in terms of units sold at about 72,000 cars, and the Golf was the single best-selling foreign model, with about 31,000 sold. However, Maserati saw the biggest gains, with sales more than doubling to about 714 vehicles. Even Mercedes-Benz saw about a 40 percent gain, with the new A-Class accounting for about a quarter of its models.

Unfortunately, the boom may be short-lived. Japan instituted a higher consumption tax in April, and auto sales took a tumble. According to Bloomberg, the first month after the increase foreign deliveries dropped 24 percent, and the overall market fell 5.5 percent. However, analysts predict that if the economy improves, then import sales could rebound anew.


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  • 24 Comments
      bK
      • 7 Months Ago
      Was just in Japan and the roads are mostly filled with Kei hybrids, prius aqua, and the new Fit hybrids. I've also seen a couple last gen Tahoes, a bunch of current gen mustangs, 5 series, and 7 series.
      churchmotor
      • 7 Months Ago
      Oh, I forgot, carguy1701 has a neighbor who has a cousin that has a friend in California who knows this girl in japan, and she relays all info about the JDM market inside news to him.
      churchmotor
      • 7 Months Ago
      Carguy1701 Please list for us the tariffs or restrictions japan imposes on Detroit imports. Compare and contrast for instance the 25 %. The USA imposes on some imports.
      Steve
      • 7 Months Ago
      Even the Japanese are realizing that Toyota/Honda designers have gone mad w/ their ugly designs.
        mikeybyte1
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Steve
        Sure - 90% domestic car market shows a huge shift to foreign. Get real.
        hokkaido76
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Steve
        The Fit Hybrid has been one of the top selling cars (if not the top selling car) in Japan for the past several months now, so yeah.....not really sparky. Trolls will keep on trolling.............
          Steve
          • 7 Months Ago
          @hokkaido76
          Enjoy your boring Honda... I'll stick to some thing more fun to drive, like Nissan or Cadillac
          zoom_zoom_zoom
          • 7 Months Ago
          @hokkaido76
          Steve thinks a Nissan Versa is "more fun to drive".
          Steve
          • 7 Months Ago
          @hokkaido76
          don't know about versa Zoom Zoom, but I can tell you all about Q50.
      churchmotor
      • 7 Months Ago
      But wait, all the UAW trolls like to "claim" Japan is a closed market! They claim Japan imposes heavy tariffs!
        Christopher
        • 7 Months Ago
        @churchmotor
        Did you not finish the article? Specifically where it said sales tanked after new tariffs were imposed? The UAW "trolls" have nothing on the japanese protectionists.
          carguy1701
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Christopher
          About par for the course for him. Aaronm_mt is a known Honda shill.
      George Strickland
      • 7 Months Ago
      japs still want to dump anything on the world market especially America while keeping their own market closed,they don't care anymore for americans today than during ww2.
        bK
        • 7 Months Ago
        @George Strickland
        The market isn't closed, it just that american brands dont make cars smaller than the fiesta or sonic.
      Josh
      • 7 Months Ago
      Is it really that hard to understand? The Japanaese people are growing as a culture and learning to accept, not unlike the formerly hardlined-nationalist American people and embracing Camrys and Accords.
        Josh
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Josh
        There was a time when the Impala was the best selling passenger sedan in the US. Times change. And Japan isn't impervious to that.
        Julius
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Josh
        Define "accept"... because even the article notes that JDM manufacturers own 90% of the market - which then cratered when a new tax was imposed.
      carguy1701
      • 7 Months Ago
      What about overall new vehicle sales? Did they rise or are they still in decline?
      KO
      • 7 Months Ago
      I was just there, and I was surprised at the number of foreign cars around Tokyo. Golfs and E-class wagons seemed pretty popular, and I probably saw more Hummer H3s (?!?) there than in the same period at home.
      ferps
      • 7 Months Ago
      Pretty surprising given that Abenomics makes imports more expensive.
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