The hard feelings between China and Japan is no real secret. Besides modern-day disputes, the two countries have had a long-running enmity that dates back to well before the atrocities of World War II. All things considered, then, it shouldn't be a shock that half of Chinese car buyers wouldn't consider a Japanese car.

This survey, conducted by Bernstein Research, found that 51 percent of 40,000 Chinese consumers wouldn't even consider a Japanese car – which, again, isn't really surprising, when you consider stories like this. According to Bernstein, the most troubling thing is the location of these sentiments – smaller, growing cities where the population is going to need sets of wheels. We imagine it wouldn't be as big of an issue in traffic-clogged Shanghai or Beijing, but these small cities are going to become a major focus for automakers.

"Nationalistic feelings are an impediment. [Japanese] premium brands will struggle," analyst Max Warburton wrote in a research note, according to The Wall Street Journal. Things will improve for Japanese makes, although China will remain a challenge, with Warburton writing, "the one thing that comes out most clearly is that most Chinese really want a German car. While we expect Japanese brands to continue to recover market share this year, ultimately the market will belong to the Germans."

There are a few other insights from the study. According to WSJ, Japanese brands are viewed better than Korean brands, and they're seen as more comfortable than the offerings from Germany or the US, despite the fact that everyone in China apparently wants a German car.

This is a tough position for the Japanese makes to be in, as there's really not a lot they can do to win favor with Chinese buyers. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, particularly as the importance of the PRC continues to increase year after year.


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  • 145 Comments
      Jake
      • 6 Months Ago
      And here I wouldn't consider a Chinese-made car because they make cheap, poorly designed, garbage.
      Colin
      • 6 Months Ago
      When I was young in the sixties I had a number of friends with fathers who wouldn't look at Japanese cars, because of the war. One of them had been In a Japanese POW camp, so it was understandable. At the same time, German cars were considered perfectly acceptable. The Japanese triumphed simply because the quality of their product was so far above the British cars of the day, which were truly dreadful as far a build and reliability, and equipment, were concerned. The Japanese provided the first cars that could be considered reliable and would start first time every time, even in winter, and with heaters and radios as standard too! Very seductive. I expect that with time, and the right product, the Japanese might win market content. However, the political tensions in the region lead me wonder about that.
      AGSHOP
      • 6 Months Ago
      Every Chinese family i know in Canada owns 1 or 2 Japanese cars and I live in a 90% Asian population. i guess when my friends moved away they forgave?
        David MacGillis
        • 6 Months Ago
        @AGSHOP
        More like forgot
        LW
        • 6 Months Ago
        @AGSHOP
        no, its bcuz they are frugal practicalist who views cars as transportation. They either own a camry or accord.
          Lachmund
          • 6 Months Ago
          @LW
          finally you have a fitting nickname, mr. max bullo. what happened to your other accounts?
        thecommentator2013
        • 6 Months Ago
        @AGSHOP
        cos Chinese like to pretend they're japanese =D Yes, I do observe that behaviour alot!
      johnb
      • 6 Months Ago
      I always thought it was kinda funny that although the Japanese generally don't really like American cars they love Harley Davidsons and buy them by the ton.
        GR
        • 6 Months Ago
        @johnb
        They don't dislike American cars. American cars just don't fit into Japan's car ownership realities too well. Japan's high fuel prices, high vehicle taxes, limited road and parking space, etc. all work to make kei-cars the most economical for Japanese folks to own. This is why the segment is huge in Japan and companies like Daihatsu and Suzuki do so well over there. Can you name an American car that has a 660cc, 63 HP max engine? Hybrids are also popular. Guess which country invented mass-market hybrids? Toyota nearly offers a hybrid version for every model in the JDM. By far, the main reason why Japanese cars rule in Japan is because these cars were specifically made for Japan which is a nation with very unique car ownership conditions. They even differ quite a bit from their neighbors Korea and China. The reason why Harleys are popular is because motorcycles are much easier to own than cars. A large motorcycle like a Harley is still much smaller than a compact car. Harleys also have an American image which is considered "cool" in Japan. Trust me, I've lived in Japan for a good portion of my life and American products like Harleys, Zippos, Maglites, and fashion brands are popular. Apple makes a killing in Japan and it's actually their 2nd largest market, only after their home market of the USA with twice the population. The Japanese have a very positive image of American stuff and US-made products are often labeled with an American flag sticker to indicate it's from the USA like it's some badge of cool.
      Radwon
      • 6 Months Ago
      This is silly. I just got back and can tell you the Chinese will buy whatever they want regardless of the country of origin. Status, reliability and price play a bigger role than nationality. Japanese have a history and reputation for reliability and good pricing so it won't hurt them as much as this article insinuates.
      Orson
      • 6 Months Ago
      If everyone took the same stance against other countries over hard feelings...unfair child labor, government sponsored industrial espionage, blatant copyright infringement, unfair trade practices, complete disregard for the environment...I wonder how that would affect China. The only reason they get away with it is because their manufacturing is so damn cheap.
      joe shmoe
      • 6 Months Ago
      that's wacist
      Andy Wesley
      • 4 Months Ago
      Chinese don't make anything worth a shit and thus they feel inferior to Japanese is why they settle on German cars that cost a lot more to drive and are not near the long term quality of a Japanese.
      thecommentator2013
      • 6 Months Ago
      At the end of the day, Chinese are smart enough to buy good products....lol... Let the market decide.
      Obama
      • 19 Days Ago

      I wouldn't consider a Japanese-made car because they so cheap, poorly designed, with the highest accident rate. You drive, you die, just Toyota. 

      Rebel Ducote
      • 6 Months Ago
      Its a Damn shame that Americans have ZERO pride in their own country and continue to support other countries economies by purchasing Chinese (or any non-American) made prodcts.
        Justin Campanale
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Rebel Ducote
        People like that are the reason Detroit made Pintos and Vegas for so long. They knew that flag wearing self-proclaimed patriots would jump on the "buy murican" bandwagon regardless of how shitty the cars in question were. Result: American cars in the 80's and 90's started trailing behind their Asian and European competition, and we are still seeing the effects today (there was a LOT of skepticism when GM brought out the Cruze and the new Impala because GM had been uncompetitive in both classes for so long) I will buy whichever car I feel suits my needs the best. That's the great part about this country: you have the freedom to buy pretty much anything you want without any repercussions. It is up to Detroit to convince me to hand them over my wallet. They need to build cars which are once again class leaders. I like what I've been seeing so far with the turnaround of the American auto industry. I have no commitment towards a particular nationality because all the automakers are multinational corporations. The majority of the profits go neither to the workers, nor the management. I remember a UCLA(IIRC) survey concerning where people thought most of the profits from the iPhone went. The majority of the profits went back to neither China, where the phone is made, nor the U.S., where Apple is headquartered. The study found out that surprisingly, a lot of the profit went back to Japan and Germany.Phones and cars are not the same, but it is naive to think that we are "supporting" American companies by buying only American cars.
      Bandit5317
      • 6 Months Ago
      Blind nationalism is a dangerous thing.
        zigolleid
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Bandit5317
        Blind nationalism? Do you even know what Japanese had done to other Asian countries, especially to China and Korea, during WW2? Japanese were, and still are, Asian Nazi to most east Asians. What's worse is, they never have truly apologized about their cruelty. In fact the Japanese government still are proud of what they have done and worship for war criminals as their gods. Get your fact right before you say it.
          David
          • 6 Months Ago
          @zigolleid
          What the holy hell are you talking about? Japan had apologized several times for the invasion and enslavement of other nations. There are a few of those who publicly do not share that apology and believe they were better off enslaving those people, just like there are a few Americans who think we were better off with black people still being slaves.
          Vien Huynh
          • 6 Months Ago
          @zigolleid
          Get over it, they did the same **** in VN and you don't hear the cr@ppy complain from VN. Also, it is the Chinese gov propaganda...
          GR
          • 6 Months Ago
          @zigolleid
          @zigolleid The Japanese have apologized publicly many times. In fact, there's even a wikipedia article on all the times and Japanese politicians who have apologized publicly. The Japanese have also paid billions in war reparations to those who it victimized. China got the biggest chunk given the Chinese were among the most victimized by Japan in WWII. The "war shrine" (Yasukuni Jinja) is a privately-owned Shinto shrine dedicated to all of those who died in war. It's not at all for war criminals, despite the misconception by those critical of Japan. In fact, they enshrine the Chinese and Koreans who died serving Japan. There's even a memorial for war animals and war orphans. It's all inclusive. It's the private owners who decided to enshrine convicted war criminals there and that had no bearing from the government. In fact, Emperor Hirohito (the wartime emperor) refused to visit the shrine after the war because of the war criminals enshrined there. PM Abe goes there because he is a right-wing hawk. Most Japanese are apathetic to Yasukuni Shrine and Japanese militarism. Go fact check everything I wrote. YOU need to get your facts right. All you did was spew the Chinese propaganda laden with incorrect facts. The CCP keep feeding their people that so they are distracted by the hate towards Japan and not what their own government does to them.
          Vien Huynh
          • 6 Months Ago
          @zigolleid
          I half Chinese and half Viet, so yea, I do know my grandma dislike the Japanese, she is 94 years old. But younger generation... Btw, do you know that many Chinese tv shows are about killing evil Japanese troops?
          Bandit5317
          • 6 Months Ago
          @zigolleid
          I know about the atrocities that the Japanese troops committed in world war 2, but that isn't what this is about. The recent surge in hate from the Chinese towards the Japanese is a direct result of the new border disputes in the region. China's imperialistic and arbitrary border expansion (which now includes several Japanese islands) has resulted in extreme tensions in the region. I doubt that the state-controlled media in China are being sympathetic towards the Japanese.
        blueingreen66
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Bandit5317
        It's worth considering Chinese/Japanese history before making that judgement. The Chinese don't think it's blind nationalism. The don't in part not simply because of what the Japanese did during their eight year invasion (1937-1945) but because the Japanese still can't quite bring themselves to acknowledge that they did anything wrong. Perhaps, when everyone who was alive then has died (the youngest are still in their 60's), passions will cool.
          RJ
          • 6 Months Ago
          @blueingreen66
          So Mr. brandon, what you're trying to say (without choking yourself to death there), is that unless you've lived through something, you're totally oblivious to it?
          brandon
          • 6 Months Ago
          @blueingreen66
          Key, THE YOUNGEST, the absolute, still in diapers, youngest, are in their 60's. Very few people alive in china now experienced anything to do with WWII. Approximately 10% of the chinese population is over 60. Of that, I'm sure only about half actually experienced, or were old enough to actually remember the war. So please stop.
          brandon
          • 6 Months Ago
          @blueingreen66
          Oh, and late 60's at that. (68-69 to be exact) Then, as far as those who might actually remember the war, it's more like 75ish. So nice try.
          RJ
          • 6 Months Ago
          @blueingreen66
          Right, and family members NEVER pass on real life experiences? By your reasoning just about everyone in Israel should've completely forgotten about the Holocaust by now because the youngest survivors are likely 80+.
          Bandit5317
          • 6 Months Ago
          @blueingreen66
          You're right about what happened during WW2, as well as Japan's hesitation to take responsibility, but this is more a result of recent border disputes. See my reply to zigolleid.
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