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.