Is Japan facing a post-car society?

Could the country that gave us the NSX, Godzilla -- and the other Godzilla -- and The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift be on the verge of giving up cars for good? With car buying down by close to 33-percent since 1990, Japan is claimed to be in the grips of kuruma banare, which, for Japanese carmakers, is the polar opposite of hakuna matata.
It's being labeled the "demotorization" process, and it involves large numbers of people in Japan's urban centers not buying cars. Surveys have revealed a variety of reasons, from the cost of purchase and ownership, to vehicles simply not being status symbols anymore, to cars being passé -- as in "so 20th century." The greatest worry is that young folks are simply not into cars, preferring cell phones and gadgets to Cubes and keis. Losing their audience before the love affair has even begun is no doubt causing JDM manufacturers to lose sleep.

And the even worse news is that the trend is expected to continue, with another 1.2-percent drop in sales predicted this year. Japanese carmakers are fighting the perception that cars aren't cool or worth the price by expanding their marketing and sales efforts in an attempt to form emotional bonds in other ways. It is certain, however, that they aren't the only ones interested in the outcome: Japan's kuruma banare is expected to befall Europe as well. Thanks for the tip, catgirlshyla!

[Source: Newsweek, Photo: Shenghung Lin | CC 2.0]

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