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 Carmakers will also need to increase their focus on the Japanese market and squash any outdated stereotypes about their vehicles.