Trump Wants More American Cars In Japan But Locals Don’t

As part of Donald Trump’s bid to boost U.S. manufacturing, particularly in the automotive sector, he is eager for more American-built cars to be sold around the world, including in Japan.

Unfortunately for Trump, there is very little demand for American vehicles in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japanese cars are notoriously reliable and represent great value for money. It’s therefore little surprise that so many of the nation’s vehicles are sold in all corners of the globe, including the United States. The reputation of American cars overseas isn’t quite as rosy.

As mentioned in a New York Times report, many people still view U.S. cars as exceptionally unreliable that guzzle fuel unlike anything else. While that’s not necessarily true these days, it’s a generalization that can’t be shaken.

According to Japanese local Mr Masui (who owns a Ford Model T hot rod), “American cars have a bad image — they aren’t fuel-efficient, they break down. That’s not really true anymore, but dealers don’t make an effort to convince people. I’ve never seen a TV commercial. You go to a car show, they’re not there.”

In 2016, almost five million cars and light trucks were sold in Japan. Remarkably, only 15,000 of them were American. To put that into perspective, there is a Toyota dealership in California that sells more vehicles annually.

Kenji Kobayashi, the executive director of the Japan Automobile Importers Association believes that American automakers haven’t valued the Japanese market as they should have. Very few advertising campaigns are run in the country and brands haven’t bothered with modifying their vehicles to comply with Japanese safety standards

Clearly then, potential policy changes Trump intends on making for American cars to sell better in Japan won’t work on their own. Carmakers will also need to increase their focus on the Japanese market and squash any outdated stereotypes about their vehicles.


  • AW – stay away from me…

    “American cars have a bad image — they aren’t fuel-efficient, they break down…”

    Somehow this brings back similar memories when dating American women

  • Miknik

    I wonder whether he knows about Japanese car taxation system, and why large, big engined cars might not be that popular there.

    • Mill0048

      Exactly what I wanted to point out. Kei car rules and the re-certification system kill the hopes of any western success over there.

    • Sébastien

      Well american cars are not just with big engines, see Opel/Vauxhall in Europe…

      • wewe

        Opel is German not American!

        • Sébastien

          Explain how a brand can be from a different nationality than it’s mother company ?
          Opel is a GM subsidiary

      • Chuck_Knut

        You’re aware those are european cars, right?

        • Sébastien

          GM subsidiaries… That’s not european.
          An example? Opel Ampera-e… It’s just a GM-Chevy Bolt.

  • TheHake

    American cars don’t sell in Europe either. Even Jeep’s are rare.

    • Michael_66589

      Its not true, many Europeans want to drive us cars but owning car with V8 engine can ruin home budget.

      • TheHake

        That’s not what I said… I said they don’t sell well… I never said that we don’t want V8’s. I’d LOVE to have a V8. But I can’t afford the fuel. But still, we don’t see many US cars here.

        • Michael_66589

          Thats right, these cars are rare, but It also depends from country – I dont know TheHake where you live, but generally in southern Europe these cars are really rare, while in Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe are quite common. I had V8 full size 97 Lincoln Town Car while living in Poland, but I used it for weekends. My daily ride was 1,4 Corolla 🙂 So if you want V8 you can drive for weekend. On you can buy for example 90s Ford Thunderbirds for couple euros.

      • supermanuel

        It is true. Completely true.

    • eye.surgeon

      Rubbish. Ford sells tons of cars throughout Europe and so does GM.

      • TheHake

        Yes… European Fords and Opel. VERY few American ones.

  • Adam

    Hey Trump! We want the F150 down under! Bring them here!! 👍🏽

  • Nate

    Would be interesting to see the likes of Ford, GM and FCA produce Kei Cars below the Ford Ka, Opel Karl / Vauxhall Viva and Fiat 500. That is assuming the Japanese can be persuaded to increase their Kei Car displacement limit from 660cc to around 750cc+ and overall have them align with the rest of the world’s City Cars, so Kei Cars would no longer be limited to the Japanese domestic market.

  • Mind Synthetic

    haha, will never happen

  • TheBelltower

    Selling in Japan has always been more effort than it was worth. Culturally, the cars aren’t right. It’s only been very recent that US automakers have had decent small cars to offer.

    • haudit

      Decent small cars usually borrowed from their European or Asian operations.

      • Mill0048

        …and they’re still not small enough to fit the Kei car regulations. No kei car in Japan, no success.

      • TheBelltower

        True. All large automakers are globally focused. So there aren’t many truly “domestic” cars anyway. Small cars designed and developed in the US have generally been pretty terrible because they were only developed to comply with CAFE standards.

  • OdysseyTag

    1. Japan (which is an island nation) has nowhere near as much landmass as the States. How do you expect F150’s and Ram’s to populate the roads of a country slightly smaller than the state of California.

    2. Japan is densely populated and heavily industrialized. There is barely any space for development yet alone living quarters. As somebody brought up in the comments, this is why Kei cars are sensible alternatives and above all else, this is why public transport is king in Japan.

    3. Japan is a RHD market so American cars are already at a disadvantage due to additional development costs (if the model is not already offered in right-hand drive guise in Europe).

    4. US cars are considered gas-guzzlers for a reason. In Japan (like many other South-East Asian markets), large capacity engines are not exactly popular nor is fuel as cheap as it is Stateside.

    5. Japan already has a crowded domestic car market of it’s own. The big 3 (Toyota, Nissan and Honda and their respective luxury marques) dominate while Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, Isuzu and Daihatsu fill the other spots. If you’re anything other than a luxury or exotic European car maker, you’re gonna have a hard time eating into their market share.

    • Dustin

      Good point about the RHD!

  • Mark Lawrence

    Japanese people are smart, try emergent countries Donald.

  • Dennis James

    Asian people are thinner and shorter and Japan is a small country by land mass. The American cars simply have the wrong dimensions for Japan. I am suprised Trump even thinks about selling American cars in Japan.

  • mattjelonek

    Why have you posted three Japanese cars at the bottom of the story? 😂

  • mattjelonek

    Btw this Trump wanting American cars in Japan is code for “We want Japanese money”

  • smartacus
  • Jayen DeHaart

    Japan has a highly protected market that depends on people buying new cars every 4-5 years at the most before the shaken makes them obsolete. Then they begin their second lives somewhere in Africa or SE Asia. The top 10 selling cars are small, many are hybrid and they are all reliable. So what exactly does prez chump expect GM or Ford to sell there? FCA is not a US company btw and it sells Fiats there already. Japanese makers were unfairly punished in the 80’s during the Reagan years (when the Gipper himself had a secret Subaru Brat- dick move) so they wised up, built factories and now build most of their cars in the US and Canada anyway.

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